Sonntag, 28. Januar 2024

Gladbach won't throw us off track

Yesterday evening after the game, I was a little disappointed that the clearly superior Werkself didn't manage to net against the concrete bulwark from Gladbach. Today, however, I have to say that the draw shouldn't throw us off course.

Let's take a quick look at the statistics, even if I'm aware that this doesn't help much with a 0-0 draw. The Werkself played 948 passes against the Foals, which is a new record for a team in the Bundesliga this season. Xhaka alone played 151 of them - the highest number in a match for a Leverkusen player this season. The other figures also show the dominance of Black & Red: The Werkself had 75% possession, and at times it was even over 80%. The 28:4 shots on goal also speak for themselves. However, Leverkusen failed to score - for the first time in a competitive match this season. Bayer 04, on the other hand, kept the clean sheet for the ninth time, which no team has managed to do in the current league season.

In my opinion, however, the team really lacked the final bite. The first touches of the ball were often not good and the finishes were made at the wrong time from difficult positions. And the personnel absences are no excuse either, especially as we played to nil at the back. So the solution for the next few games can only be to play a bit more aggressively and to net, as we had more than enough very good chances yesterday.

Sonntag, 21. Januar 2024

Not lost in Leipzig either - on the contrary

This evening at the old Zentralstadion in Leipzig was pure madness. The Werkself went behind twice and came back each time. However, Bayer refused to give in against a Leipzig side that was half reeling and were rewarded with a 3-2 winner at the start of stoppage time. The performance showed once again that the team has balls and believes in itself right to the end. We take three important points from Leipzig and thus defend our lead in the table.

Overall, I can only emphasise our coach's conclusion. We saw a very intense game, anything could have happened. We weren't good in the first half in particular, Leipzig often found spaces there. We then did better in the second half. But despite conceding what looked like a goal to go 2:1 behind at one stage, many of us had the confidence that we could do it. And we did it.

Just how strong the second half was can also be seen from the statistics: If at half-time the score was 4-0 in favour of Leipzig in terms of shots on goal, by the end there were 18 shots on goal for us and 10 for the Bulls. The Black & Red's pass rate was 90 per cent, while the Saxons achieved 80 per cent. It was the first time since 19 March 2023 (against Bayern) that Bayer had won a clash in the league after trailing at the break. The success against Leipzig also means that the Werkself have already achieved more league victories than in the entire previous season (15).

Sonntag, 14. Januar 2024

Fall champions

After initial problems with FC Augsburg, who were aggressive at the start, Black & Red took control of the game from the middle of the first half and gave Augsburg fewer and fewer opportunities to breathe. Despite this, the game went into half-time goalless, the third time in 26 games that Bayer had failed to score in the first half. The Werkself exerted pressure on the committed FCA defense until the end, but it was only in stoppage time that Bayer finally managed to reward themselves: Grimaldo delivered a cross into the center of the penalty area, where Pala was in the right place to fire the ball into the net in stoppage time for the 1-0 final score (90.+4).

All in all, one continues to be amazed: the belief in the victory was very high. The morale, the commitment, the mentality of this team - it's all admirable. That clearly distinguishes this year's team from those of previous years. The statistics of the game were actually also clear and underline the fact that the late victory was fully deserved. The Werkself fired a total of 24 shots on goal against Augsburg, but only the last one found its way into the net. It was the second most chances on goal in a match this season, only against Darmstadt did Leverkusen try more often (25). The other figures in the game against FCA also speak for themselves: 75.9% possession, twelve corners to zero and 786 passes played to 252.

The statistics continue: The win means that the Werkself finish the first half of the season on top for the third time after the 2001/02 and 2009/10 seasons. Black & Red can also look back on the best first half of a season in the club's history and the third-best points haul after a first half in the history of the Bundesliga (45). Only Bayern have ever had more points at this stage (47 in 2013/14 and 46 in 2015/16). And now we travel to Leipzig next Saturday with a broad chest.

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