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Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga Odds: Xabi Alonso's side 1/6 for title; 9/4 for unbeaten season

Bayer Leverkusen are now as short at 1/6 to win the title for the first time in their 119-year history after Bayern Munich lost 3-2 to VfL Bochum to create an eight-point gap at the top of Bundesliga.

Leverkusen, nicknamed 'Neverkusen' for the perpetual near misses on the trophy front, finally look set to end their 31-year drought - and things may get considerably better from there.

Still unbeaten after 22 games, Leverkusen are 12 away from a truly historic season, and are in to 9/4 with bet365 to go through the 34 matches of the 2023/24 Bundesliga campaign without defeat.

bet365’s Steve Freeth said: “Bayern Munich may have been dominant for a number of years, but even they have failed to go through the whole of a season without tasting at least one defeat, so for the pre-season 50/1 title outsiders to go this far without losing is something special from Xabi Alonso’s side."

Should they fall shy of the 34-game mark, there’s another place in the Bundesliga history books up for grabs. While no one has ever gone a full Bundesliga season undefeated, the longest unbeaten start to a campaign was Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola, going 28 games without defeat, matching the longest unbeaten run within one season, set by Borussia Dortmund two years earlier.

As well as a potential unbeaten title-winning season, Leverkusen are now odds-on for a league and cup double at 5/6 and are a single-figure price at 9/1 to win the treble of Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Europa League.

Bayer finished second in the Bundesliga four times between 1997 and 2002, with the 2000 and 2002 seasons particularly hard to stomach, needing a draw against minnows Unterhaching on the final game of the season, only to lose 2-0, and then surrendering a five-point lead with three games to play two years later, in a campaign when they were a week away from a treble.

Having lost the title on the final day, they went 1-0 up in the DFB-Pokal final against Schalke, only to lose 4-2, and were then downed by Zinedine Zidane's wondergoal in the Champions League final.

They do have a DFB-Pokal honour from 1993, as well as a UEFA Cup from 1988, but since then have nine major runner-up finishes to their name.

Alonso took charge in October last year after a dismal start that saw Leverkusen battling relegation rather than competing for the European places. It’s always a gamble, hiring a coach who has no senior managerial experience to their name, but it seems to have paid off for Leverkusen. 

An excellent run of form in the five month from November through to April saw Leverkusen fly up the league; indeed, between 6th November and 23rd April, no side took more points than Alonso’s men, with a disappointing run of three points from their final five games denying them a Champions League place.

They even reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, being ousted 1-0 over two legs by Jose Mourinho’s Roma.

Despite losing top scorer Moussa Diaby to Aston Villa, they’ve been able to strengthen their squad, using the money to sign the likes of Granit Xhaka from Arsenal and Victor Boniface from Union Saint-Gilloise, the Nigerian leading the goalscoring charts with 10 in his first 16 Bundesliga games.

Of course, the grand irony would be that after so much heartache, Bayer win not one but two (or three) trophies in the same campaign.

They’re 4/6 for the DFB-Pokal with Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich eliminated and two 2. Bundesliga clubs in the semi-final draw. Third-tier FC Saarbrucken - conquerors of Bayern Munch and then Frankfurt - face Borussia Monchengladbach at home with a chance to complete the semi-final draw.

Liverpool are favourites for the Europa League, but priced at 9/2, Bayer as second favourites certainly shouldn’t be discounted.

Freeth added: “Alonso’s outfit are also the only side across Europe’s 54 top divisions yet to lose a competitive game having reached the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal and recording a perfect six wins from six in the Europa League group stage.

“The Neverkusen tag might not be here for too much longer if Alonso has anything to do with it.”

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