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Xabi Alonso faces the challenge of resurrecting Bayer Leverkusen after an unbeaten run

Xabi Alonso admits it will be a challenge to deal with the bitter end to Bayer Leverkusen’s 51-match unbeaten run.

Atalanta’s 3-0 win in the Europa League final in Dublin means Leverkusen will continue their 36-year wait for European silverware, although they have already sealed their first Bundesliga title and have the chance to complete the double against Kaiserslautern in the German Cup. Last Saturday.

Alonso hailed Atalanta as a ‘special team’ and told TNT Sports: “We didn’t plan to have a bad day today. We couldn’t deal with it. It was not intended, the unbeaten run came to an end, but they deserve it.

“It wasn’t about tactics, they were better. We have another final on Saturday and we will try to learn. The result doesn’t change at all how proud I am of my players.

“We were lifting the Bundesliga on Saturday and we have a chance to win the German Cup on Saturday as well.

“This season exceeded all expectations. My first year as a coach, it’s going very well. I will definitely learn from today.”

He added to “It hurts, of course, but we need to use this pain in a positive way. It’s amazing what we’ve achieved and we should be proud. We will learn. We had a great chance and put everything together today, but it didn’t go as planned.

“We were not at our best: everyone, including me. So we will learn from today. It will be a challenge, how we react to defeat and deal with pain.”

The prospect of a 53-game unbeaten run has been the talk of European football for weeks but Leverkusen’s Granit Xhaka told RTL: “Honestly, we don’t care about the unbeaten record. We didn’t care about that in the first place. It’s about the game and unfortunately we lost the final today. That’s football. We said yesterday that it would be a tough game. Compliments to Atalanta.

“It’s a shame that it didn’t go well in the final. We looked very good until this game and the fact that we couldn’t do what we usually do well in the final is part of the game. We have to accept that.”

His teammate, Robert Andrich, told RTL: “I would have preferred it to be a less important game. It’s very hard to take but we have to be honest with ourselves. It was worth it today, so we have to go out with our heads held high and congratulate Atalanta. They definitely deserved to beat us today.”

Jonathan Tah, Leverkusen’s captain, added to RTL: “It’s very disappointing, of course. Once you get here, you want a different result. That’s the state of mind right now. Still, we must go on. We still have a very important game to play. Even if it hurts right now, you have to allow the pain. We leave tomorrow.

“We really deserved to win today. We didn’t find our way in our game. They were very aggressive in the duels, they left us a little space so we deserved to win against us today. “

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