Bayer Leverkusen are champions of Germany for the first time in their 120-year history.

Xabi Alonso’s side wrapped up the title with five games to spare after a crushing 5-0 win over Werder Bremen in front of their jubilant supporters.

Overjoyed fans spilled on to the pitch to celebrate after Leverkusen moved to 79 points – 16 more than nearest rivals Bayern Munich – with just 15 points left to play for.

It is a remarkable achievement by former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder Alonso, who took charge in October 2022 with the club second bottom of the table.

Leverkusen’s triumph ended Bayern’s stranglehold on the league after 11 title wins in a row.

‘Quite unbelievable’

Bayern Munich have dominated German football to such an extent that the last team to win the Bundesliga other than Bayern in recent years was Borussia Dortmund way back in 2012.

It is all change now, with Leverkusen securing the title after remaining unbeaten all season despite juggling Europa League and German Cup commitments.

Alonso’s side have dropped just eight points, winning 25 of their 29 matches and drawing the other four.

In addition, they are on course for an incredible treble after establishing a 2-0 first-leg lead over West Ham in the quarter-finals of the Europa League, while they face second-tier Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final on 25 May.

Their unbeaten run stands at 43 games in all competitions and should they maintain that for the rest of the season, they will break the record set by Benfica in the 1960s.A BBC graphic showing the longest unbeaten runs in the Bundesliga

In 43 competitive matches this season, Leverkusen have won 38 times and drawn five, scoring 123 times and conceding just 31.

Their last defeat was on 27 May 2023.

Sunday’s win over Werder Bremen saw Leverkusen set a new record for longest unbeaten starts to a season in the Bundesliga.

The previous record was Bayern’s 28-game run in Pep Guardiola’s maiden campaign in charge in 2013-14.

“To go unbeaten in the Bundesliga, ending Bayern Munich’s long reign, it’s really quite unbelievable,” broadcaster and Leverkusen fan David Keppel told BBC World Service Sport.

“The fans are in a really happy space.”

BBC graphic showing the longest unbeaten runs in Europe
Longest unbeaten runs in Europe in all competitions since the advent of the European Cup

‘Good riddance to the Neverkusen tag’

In 2001-02, Bayer Leverkusen were chasing the Treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League.

They ended up with nothing after finishing one point in the league behind champions Borussia Dortmund, lost 2-1 to Real Madrid in the Champions League final and were beaten 4-2 by Schalke in the German Cup final.

It was that campaign that spawned the ‘Neverkusen’ tag, which the club has struggled to shake off.

“That pain from 2002 really sits deep,” added Keppel. “We were so close to lifting a Treble and then to not win any trophies was really painful.”

Leverkusen have finished runners-up in the Bundesliga five times, but have surely shrugged off the ‘Neverkusen’ tag for good after winning the Bundesliga title.

Sunday’s success was their first trophy since they lifted the German Cup in 1993, beating Hertha Berlin 1-0.

‘Eviva Espana’

Granit Xhaka scored Leverkusen’s second goal against Werder Bremen.

It was only his second Bundesliga goal since signing from Arsenal last summer for £21.4m, but the Switzerland midfielder’s experience has proved pivotal in their quest for honours.

Nigerian striker Victor Boniface scored his 11th league goal of the season on Sunday, while Germany forward Florian Wirtz came off the bench to score a second-half hat-trick.

Wirtz is the first player to score a Bundesliga hat-trick after coming off the bench since Erling Haaland for Borussia Dortmund in 2020.

Alex Grimaldo (9) and Jeremie Frimpong (8) have chipped in with vital goals too, while Alonso’s coaching methods have also been praised.

The 42-year-old Spaniard, a three-time Bundesliga champion with Bayern Munich and Champions League winner at Real Madrid as a player, has been linked with former clubs Liverpool and Bayern as they seek to appoint new managers in the summer.

Alonso, however, opted to stay at Leverkusen, where he is adored by supporters.

Minutes after his side were confirmed champions, they played ‘Eviva Espana’ over the speakers at the BayArena in his honour.

“Leverkusen always had this problem of going missing in games, choking when it really mattered,” added Keppel. “But they added some experienced players to the squad that has given them a bit of an edge.”