Alonso reveals reasons for Boniface’s limited playing time post-injury

Victor Boniface faces an uphill battle for a starting role at Bayer Leverkusen, despite assurances from manager Xabi Alonso.

The Nigerian striker's season took a detour in January when an adductor injury forced him to miss the Africa Cup of Nations and undergo surgery. Following a three-month absence, Boniface returned for the German Cup semi-final, but consistent starting opportunities have remained elusive. He's only started three of Leverkusen's last 12 Bundesliga matches.

However, Bayer Leverkusen are set to face Italian Serie A side Atalanta BC in the final of the 2023-24 UEFA Europa League, raising questions about Boniface’s involvement.

Ahead of the game, Xabi Alonso has publicly voiced his support for Boniface. Fielding a question from Nigerian journalist Oma Akatugba about the striker's limited playing time, the Spanish tactician also emphasized his appreciation for Boniface's contribution and his fight for a spot in the squad. 

“It’s a good question, but for sure after the injury, it takes time. We have a wide squad with many players, all of whom want to be on the pitch.

“For sure, I like when someone is not playing and shows this character to prove to me that ‘coach, you were wrong, I have to be on the pitch.’

“I am happy with Boniface. The impact he has had this year has helped us a lot, and we are helping him get back on track. Tell your people in Nigeria that we are happy with him.” he said via a video shared by Oma Akatugba.

Victor Boniface: Spearheading Leverkusen's historic season

Victor Boniface has become a household name in Germany this season. His contributions have been nothing short of phenomenal, playing a key role in Bayer Leverkusen's remarkable achievements.

Neverlusen, as they are fondly called, completed a historic feat – an entire Bundesliga season without a single defeat. This accomplishment included 28 wins and 6 draws across their 34 matches in the top flight.

Leverkusen showcased their attacking prowess, scoring a staggering 89 goals in the Bundesliga. Boniface himself played a significant part in this offensive dominance.

Boniface's individual brilliance was recognized as he secured the coveted Bundesliga Rookie of the Season award. This accolade caps off a dream debut campaign for the 23-year-old striker.

While his 14 goals and 9 assists in 23 appearances are impressive statistics, Boniface's impact goes deeper. His versatility on the pitch and his ability to create opportunities for his teammates have been invaluable assets for Leverkusen.

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Boniface's consistent performances have been instrumental in propelling Leverkusen to numerous victories throughout the season. His attacking prowess and creative spark were central to their historic unbeaten run and ongoing treble chase.

Victor Boniface has emerged as one of the Bundesliga's brightest young talents. His contributions this season have been a major factor in Leverkusen's success, and the future looks incredibly promising for this rising Nigerian star.

A Nigeria Derby in the UEFA Europa League final

Bayer Leverkusen, newly crowned Bundesliga champions, stand on the cusp of a historic double as they face Atalanta in the Europa League final on Wednesday night in Dublin.

This season has been a dream run for Xabi Alonso's side. They shattered Bayern Munich's 11-year stranglehold on the German title and etched their name in Bundesliga history by becoming the first team to go unbeaten throughout the entire 61-year existence of the league. 

As if that wasn't enough, they've also secured a spot in the German Cup final, putting themselves in contention for a remarkable treble.

Their never-dying spirit has earned them the fitting nickname “Bayer Neverlusen” – a stark contrast to their previous reputation for falling short in crucial moments. Atalanta will need everything in their arsenal to break Leverkusen's seemingly unbreakable momentum. The German side boast a European record of 51 consecutive games without a loss, a streak stretching all the way back to August last year.

'Lookman could not replace Scamacca' – Gasperini bemoans absence of star striker in Coppa final defeat
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Several teams have come agonizingly close to handing Leverkusen their first defeat, but with a staggering 17 goals scored in or after the 90th minute this season, Leverkusen's relentless spirit and never-say-die attitude have seen them pull off improbable victories.

Adding another layer of intrigue to this final is the presence of three Nigerian players. Ademola Lookman, the star of Atalanta's semi-final win against Marseille with a goal and an assist, will find himself facing compatriots Nathan Tella and Victor Boniface, who play for Leverkusen. 

Lookman's impressive performance secured Atalanta's place in the Europa League final, while Tella and Boniface saw limited playing time in Leverkusen's semi-final victory over Roma.

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Toyosi Afolayan

Toyosi Afolayan is a sports journalist who breathes life into the games we love. He loves to combine insightful analysis with historical background, creating a richer understanding of sports. Afolayan's expertise ranges from captivating narratives to live broadcasts, captivating audiences across platforms like Ojbsport, AllNigeriaSoccer, TVC Entertainment, Bounce Networks, Kwara TV, ICIR, EaglesTracker, and NFF TV. His background in History and International Studies adds depth, revealing the connections between sports, politics, and national identity.