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Xhaka after scoring his first goal: “In the end, nobody asks you how you played”

With his first goal for Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Granit Xhaka put the Werkself on the road to victory against Mainz. After the final whistle, he explained his subsequent jubilation and what matters in the title race

The game against Mainz on Friday evening had little to do with the soccer festivals that Bayer 04 Leverkusen have repeatedly celebrated in the BayArena this season. The team from Rheinhessen “made life difficult for us”, with the leaders not achieving as much as might have been expected in advance in their 2:1 win over the 17th-placed team in the table.

What Xhaka “doesn’t matter in the end “

However, he did not see an approach that was possibly too complicated or too playful: “There are teams like Mainz who come here and are brutally defensive. Then it’s not always easy to find gaps. We always try to do that.” The experienced Swiss simply lacked fortune in the final action in the first, better Leverkusen half, “but in the end it doesn’t matter to me or the team,” said Xhaka, who knows: “Three points are three points. At the end of the season, nobody asks you how you played. It’s how you win the games that counts. “

The former Gladbach player himself played a decisive role in the successful outcome of the game, putting the Werkself ahead in the 3rd minute. “I wanted to shoot at goal,” he said afterwards, but admitted that he had also benefited from Robin Zentner’s unfortunate positioning: “Of course the goalkeeper takes a step forward, perhaps speculating on the cross.” Coupled with the fact that “I hit the ball perfectly”, this enabled a long-awaited sense of achievement: “The only thing missing so far was the goal.”

It was therefore understandable that Xhaka had come up with something special for the subsequent celebrations. His face contorted with pain, he grabbed his left thigh and hinted at an injury before marching in step with Jeremie Frimpong on the spot and relieving the physios who had already jumped up

“They were already speculating on the bench. After almost eight or nine months, they should be getting to know me,” commented the Swiss national team’s leading player with a grin, revealing that the cheer, which goes back to Real Sociedad’s Takefusa Kubo and has since been included in the EA SPORTS FC 24 soccer simulation, is also regularly shown in training: “Then, of course, I discussed with the boys that we’d do this cheer when I scored my first goal. “

With London experience to the trophy?

Bayer Leverkusen want to continue celebrating after the end of the season – with the championship trophy. With a lead of at least eight points over the runners-up from Munich, this is only logical. And yet Xhaka, who lost a similar cushion in England last season, warns of the situation: “Unfortunately, I experienced it last year at Arsenal. We were ahead of Man City for a long time and lost the championship at the end.”

A scenario that should be avoided at the Werkself. And an experience that leads to a special leadership role for the manager, which Xhaka faces and continues to look forward to with optimism: “The team has become brutally mature. Also thanks to the experienced players who have been brought in. Like Jonas Hofmann or myself. We’ll manage that well in the dressing room. “

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