In almost one year as the manager of the Club, the Spanish manager turned Die Werkself into one of the most enter­tain­ing and successful teams in Europe.

In sensational form and sitting pretty atop the Bundesliga table, Xabi Alonso's exciting Bayer Leverkusen have been a joy to watch this season.

Still undefeated, boasting the equal-best goalscoring record and the second-finest defensive numbers, they've been nothing short of exceptional under the tactically sophisticated Spaniard, who has only been at the helm for roughly a year.

Bayer Leverkusen's overall Bundesliga stats

While Alonso himself isn't getting too carried away, there's no doubting what an entertaining brand of football they're playing, which he deserves immense credit for. Integrating the likes of Victor Boniface, Alex Grimaldo, Jonas Hofmann and Granit Xhaka into the fold superbly, these new faces have proven shrewd additions and made sure the loss of Moussa Diaby to Aston Villa has hardly been felt.

Evolving the team into a slicker outfit in possession, who control matches superbly, and a more effective pressing unit, the improvement in all phases has been notable.

Organizing his team in a base 3-4-2-1/shape, which frequently morphs into a 4-2-4 depending on the positioning of the wide defenders and roaming 10s, this has given them a platform from which to be such a lethal offensive team.

Leverkusen's average position map vs. Koln
Average positions example vs. Mainz (back four leaning)

Preferring to build out from the back, Alonso's back three/four, goalkeeper and central midfielders give them a strong, connected foundation to beat the first line of pressure. Excellent at drawing out foes, generating passing angles, forming positional and numerical superiorities and creating conditions for up-back-throughs and third-man combinations, their fluidity has been impressive.

Key passes map - from Wyscout Team Report

The likes of Florian Wirtz and Hofmann add to their central presence from their attacking midfield slots to give crucial options between the lines and in the half spaces while Jeremie Frimpong especially and Grimaldo, who mixes things up by staying deeper and charging upfield, typically supply the width.

Towering, athletic and multifaceted forward Boniface then serves as a fantastic reference point up front, with his capacity to pin markers, win second balls, embark on crafty forward runs and hold up the ball ensuring he leads the line with aplomb.

“Victor is not merely a proficient striker; he is a complete player,” Alonso recently said. “And you can see that he gets along very well with his teammates, both on and off the pitch.”

Due to their shape giving them lots of natural diamonds and triangles, this, in alliance with their close proximity and relentless variations, helps them cut through opponents sharply to progress through the thirds.

Detailed dribbling and through passes graphic - Wyscout Team Report

Some extra wrinkles come through their nifty rotations in the final third, how they overload one flank, which then leaves the wide man on the far side to be isolated, the way one wing-back may stay deeper to support build-up and when a center-back will push high to join in attacks. In addition, one of the central midfielders may also drop into auxiliary full-back positions to offer structural security behind the marauding wing/full-backs and to give a vital extra number in less densely populated zones.

Another integral element is how they populate the box well, ready so the ball holder has a choice of multiple options for crosses and cutbacks into central areas and the front post or the back stick, where blindside runners can be so dangerous vs. ball-facing adversaries.

Bayer 04 Shot metrics - Wyscout Team Report

Able to hurt opponents in so many ways in both transition and slower, more methodical passages with their wonderfully skilled and gifted players that can wreak havoc on the dribble, through their passing and with incisive individual and collective movement, adversaries have found them a very challenging proposition to combat.

Leverkusen's final third dribbles metrics

Alonso has also proven to be a shrewd operator at setting up his defense and devising some astute pressing schemes depending on the opponent, with his adaptability and work on the training ground shining through.

To start with, their aforementioned spacing holds them in good stead to immediately counter-press once they lose possession, allowing them to make a host of regains high to get on the attack again. A very valuable chance-conjuring method indeed.

Final third recoveries - Wyscout Team Report

Then, when it comes to their pressing, it's been interesting to see the gifted coach tailor his shapes and set traps to disrupt his opposition, plus also strategically press in response to certain triggers like passes into wide areas, back passes, sloppy or underhit passes and when a player receives with their back to goal or in an open body posture.

Often setting up in an asymmetrical manner, plus great at using the touchline as an extra defender and at ensuring the players use their cover shadows to block passing lanes behind them, they've been a very effective force.

Usually solid and compact when defending in a mid or low block, where they shift coherently, are positionally sound, know when to drop back or step up and can handle crosses into the box with their towering defenders, this duly adds to their stopping quality.

Instilling his principles superbly to get all the players on the same page and dovetailing in unison, there's been much to like about their output in this regard.

Balanced, masterfully coached, with plenty of squad depth and acting wisely in the transfer market, Die Werkself continue to go from strength to strength in this crusade under Alonso's expert tutelage, whose system has served as a catalyst for him to get the best out of his side.

Bayer Leverkusen's overall stats breakdown this season

Set to have a major part to play in the Bundesliga title battle and improving all the time, this tactically flexible, multidimensional outfit, who are showing no signs of slowing up, look to be a legitimate threat to Bayern Munich in the hunt for glory.

Having worked under the likes of Rafa Benitez, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti, the well-schooled student of the game is clearly brilliantly equipped for success. He still deserves immense praise for putting his own stamp on things and implementing his ideas to elevate his side to such great heights, however.

“He is a great coach, he came and gave us new energy. It was a fresh start. Everyone wanted to impress. We have changed our style of play, our way of getting the ball out. Everything adapts more to us. And we all understand how we play, how we press and that kind of thing," explained the electric Frimpong in the Spanish press.

“He is very understanding with the footballer and very talkative with all of us. When he explains something, he explains it until you understand it. For example, if in training you don’t understand the reason for an exercise, he spends the time so that we all understand it. As a player, that makes you feel very comfortable, you know you can ask him things.”

While it remains to be seen if Leverkusen can maintain their exemplary form, especially considering they have Europa League and DFB Cup commitments, it'll be captivating to watch how their season pans out.

Laying an outstanding foundation to challenge for silverware on many fronts and still with room for improvement, Alonso's compelling Leverkusen appear primed to achieve something truly special this campaign.

Only time will tell if they, in fact, can, but on the evidence on offer so far, it'd take a brave man to bet against this free-flowing, confident and defensively stout side reigning triumphant in some capacity in the 2023/2024 term.

If you want to learn more about Wyscout Data & API, get in touch!
Start your 15-day Wyscout free trial now.
Follow Edward on Twitter.