Bayer 04 analysis: More defensive than ever – strategy doesn’t work

Bayer 04 Leverkusen lost 1-0 to RB Leipzig after average performances by Hradecky, Schick, Diaby and the rest of the team on Easter Sunday and slipped down to fourth place in the Bundesliga. Our analysis:

The important things first

Third-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen lost 1-0 to fourth-placed RB Leipzig on Easter Sunday and swapped places with them. A goal by Dominik Szoboszlai in the 70th minute decided the game. In the remaining four games of the season, the Werkself (52 points), weakened by many injuries, will have to defend fourth place and their place in the Champions League against SC Freiburg (51). The game in the Bay Arena between the two teams will probably decide that.

The gate

In the 70th minute, Odilon Kossounou made a bad pass on the right. The directly played ball did not reach colleague Charles Aranguiz, as planned, but Christopher Nkunku, whose substitution at half-time had changed the game massively in favor of the guests.

The Frenchman picked up the pace immediately, saw the space Dominik Szoboszlai was about to run into and played it in, the Hungarian deftly put Jonathan Tah on the wrong foot with a ball touch, finished with the next ball touch and Tah slightly faked the ball trying to save , but untenable into his own goal. At that moment it looked very much like the decision in a game in which Bayer 04 had few functioning offensive tools against the currently most successful team in German football.

That was good

The defensive discipline in the first half, which should take away the opponent’s space and desire to play. Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco had changed his team to seven positions after the efforts of the Europa League victory in Bergamo and left his attacking stars Nkunku and Olmo, as well as the midfield sprinter Konrad Laimer, who was so strong recently, out.

The Werkself, with a back five and three defensive midfielders, forced their equally cautious opponents to set a negative record: For the first time in their Bundesliga history, RB Salzburg kept a clean sheet in the first half.

That was bad

The defensive orientation of Leverkusen, which was provoked by the many injuries and the strong opponents, had a high price: With eight field players not programmed offensively, Bayer 04 had so little offensive potential in the starting line-up in a way that Bayer 04 rarely had in the starting line-up. Coach Gerardo Seoane had announced that without the speed and creativity of the long-term injured players in the final games of the season, there would be no more Bayer football.

What that meant became visible against Leipzig. As long as RB didn’t take the lead, this plan seemed to work. Then, when the offensive stars around Nkunku entered the field, it stopped working. Even before the 0:1, RB had two great chances for the opening goal. Also bad: Piero Hincapie and Robert Andrich saw their fifth yellow card and will miss next Saturday’s match against Fürth.

man of the game

Christopher Nkunku, currently the most interesting attacking player in the Bundesliga. With his appearance after half-time, the game completely changed, because total control of the opponent is no longer possible when such a striker plays for him. He caused a commotion in the Bayer penalty area just seconds after coming on, was down after colliding with Tah and the next second Orban, who had a free shot, hit the post. He forced fouls from Leverkusen and then played the decisive pass to Szoboszlai.

moment of the game

The kick-off of the second half, in which another Leipzig team was on the field.

That’s what the coaches say

Domenico Tedesco (RB Leipzig): “Of course we’re happy with the win. It wasn’t enough in the first half, we should have developed more intensity to move this compact Leverkusen block, which surprised us a bit. The goal helped us in the second half. Then we defended the result well.”

Gerardo Seoane (Bayer Leverkusen): “We’re disappointed with the result, but we still did a lot of things well today. We never allowed Leipzig to really pick up the pace. We made one mistake too many, which allowed us to counterattack and Leipzig took advantage of it. However, we gave the ball away too quickly while in possession. We didn’t assert ourselves enough in the offensive duel. Leipzig not only has a run, but is also good on the pitch.”

That’s what we say

The offensively better team, the currently better squad, won this game. Bayer 04 had a coherent concept, but it couldn’t work after going behind. The last four games are all about defending fourth place. In the end, everyone will be measured by this.

Source: Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger – Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger by

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