Pizarro: Alonso's foresight has been key to Leverkusen success
Bundesliga legend Claudio Pizarro believes Xabi Alonso's superior tactical insight has been key to Bayer Leverkusen's success this campaign.
The Spaniard's side currently sit top of the table ahead of their crucial match against champions Bayern Munich on Saturday.
Leverkusen have yet to taste defeat in the German top flight this season after 20 rounds of matches, boasting a record of 16 wins and four draws.
A crucial cog in Alonso's machine has been summer signing Granit Xhaka, with the Switzerland international thriving at the base of the team's midfield after playing a more advanced role at Arsenal last term.
And ex-Bayern striker Pizarro, 45, claims such an example of the Leverkusen boss' foresight is a primary reason behind an unexpected title challenge.
Speaking on behalf of the Bundesliga, he told LiveScore: "Xhaka is a great player. Everybody knows what he did at Arsenal for many years.
"Xabi is a very experienced person who can see many things before other people see them.
"So he took Xhaka and put him in a position where he can control the game, because he has that quality.
"And for Xabi, it's very important that he played in the exact same position. So he knows what the player needs to do.
"He knew a player who could do that would be pivotal to the team."
Pizarro is predicting an enthralling encounter between Germany's top two at the BayArena — and he does not believe Victor Boniface's absence will significantly impact Leverkusen's chances.
The Nigeria international picked up a serious groin injury which required surgery just prior to the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations and could be out until April.
Pizarro added: "I think it's going to be a great game.
"Sometimes in these kind of games, you have important players that cannot play but you always have a replacement.
"And sometimes these replacements perform better.
"This is a very important game for both teams. I think it's going to be a very exciting encounter.
"If Leverkusen win, they can secure the Bundesliga this year. But of course, Bayern will not want to let them do that."