Leverkusen claimed the Bundesliga crown in mid-April, but their road to the cup final was not without challenges. In a hard-fought match against second-division opponents, Leverkusen found themselves a man down after Odilon Kossounou’s late first-half dismissal for a second bookable offense.

However, Granit Xhaka’s stunning left-footed strike from distance in the 16th minute proved to be the difference. This win was a bounce-back for Leverkusen after their Europa League final defeat to Atalanta on Wednesday, which ended their unbeaten run and hopes of a treble.

Xabi Alonso, the Leverkusen manager, praised his team’s spirit and dedication, stating that the double victory was a result of their hard work and dedication to the fans and the club.

Alonso’s impressive achievement of going unbeaten in the Bundesliga season did not go unnoticed by his opposing coach, Friedhelm Funkel, who was managing his last game before retirement. Funkel expressed his admiration for Alonso’s ability to maintain an unbeaten streak in his first year, predicting that he would win many more titles.

Underdogs Kaiserslautern, four-time German champions, had their own story of resilience. Stranded in the lower leagues since 2012, they came close to achieving a historic feat. Despite narrowly avoiding relegation to the third league this season, they made their way to the final, facing only one top-division club, Cologne, who have since been relegated.

Kossounou, who started the match, received a yellow card in the second minute for a strong challenge. However, Leverkusen took the lead through long-range specialist Xhaka, who blasted a goal from outside the penalty area.

Kaiserslautern almost equalized moments after Leverkusen were reduced to ten men, but Tobias Raschl’s shot narrowly missed the post. Kossounou’s dismissal just before halftime left Leverkusen with ten men, forcing Alonso to make defensive changes at halftime to shore up his team.

The passionate support of their traveling fans, who unveiled the club’s mascot, the Red Devil, before kickoff, inspired Kaiserslautern. However, they lacked the quality to break down Leverkusen, who were content to sit back and defend in the second half, opting for counter-attacks.

Alonso, an experienced former player himself, also sought to calm the chaos, demonstrating his tactical acumen by halting a counter-attack to maintain control. He explained his desire for a controlled tempo, even if it meant slowing down his attacking midfielder, Florian Wirtz.

In the end, Leverkusen added another trophy to their cabinet, doubling their historical tally. This victory, along with their German Cup win in 1993 and the UEFA Cup in 1988, showcased their dominance in German football. The final also marked a shift from the traditional powerhouses of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and RB Leipzig, who collectively hold 27 German Cups.

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