28.07.2018Bayer 04

Four wins out of four – Paulinho makes debut at Sittard

The Werkself ran out winners in the fourth pre-season friendly: A day before setting off for training camp in Zell am See-Kaprun, Heiko Herrlich's team secured a 2-0 win away to Dutch top-flight side Fortuna Sittard. Kevin Volland (25') and Benny Henrichs (76') scored for Bayer 04.

"It was a decent to good performance by us," declared Heiko Herrlich after the fourth win on the bounce without conceding. The 46-year-old coach again bemoaned the fact the margin of victory wasn't more emphatic. "Due to the conditions this week, we weren't as tired going into the game," said Herrlich referring to the adjusted training  regime due to the hot weather of the past few days. "We gave the ball away too often in the first half and that cost us a lot of energy. We did better in the second half – and we created some good chances – we should have scored one or two more goals. But the positives is: We didn't concede any chances from open play but did from set pieces, " added Herrlich.

eight short at Sittard

The Bayer 04 head coach again had to manage without a number of his players against the newcomers to the Dutch top flight: Lukas Hradecky (jaw), Joel Pohjanpalo (ankle), Panos Retsos (rehab), Charles Aránguiz (knee), Chinedu Ekene (muscular problems), Karim Bellarabi (rested), Tin Jedvaj (holiday) and Julian Brandt (joins the squad tomorrow) were all unavailable. In contrast to the previous friendlies against Roßbach (7-0), Siegen (3-0) and Wuppertal (2-0), Herrlich decided not play any of the U19s from the start.

The Werkself were on the front foot from the kick-off in front of 3,000 fans at the Fortuna Sittard Stadium – but shots on goal were a rarity. On 25 minutes, Kevin Volland showed his crafty side as he hit a volley from the edge of the box into the top corner to give Bayer 04 the lead. This spurred on the hosts and they then had their own chances on goal: Sittard's best chance  saw a free kick from the left hit the post on 29 minutes. Not much else happened  after that– so the Herrlich team took the narrow lead into the break.

Paulinho unlucky on debut

There was just one change at half-time for Bayer 04: Benny Henrichs replaced Wendell on the left side of the defence. "We wanted to get to the point that the players are for more than a half and go that extra mile. And that's why we're looking to give them more time on the pitch," explained Herrlich after the game. The Bayer 04 coach made seven changes in total – that included new signing  Paulinho making his debut for Leverkusen. Four minutes after he came on, the Werkself had reason to celebrate again: Henrichs completed a one-two with Lucas Alario brilliantly to make it 2-0 on 76 minutes. The result could have been clearer in the closing stages but an effort from talented young Brazilian was ruled out for supposedly being offside. Nevertheless, Paulinho did make a good impression that provides hope for the future. "He did very well in the short time he was on the pitch. He showed why we signed him – he was very mobile, posed a great threat in front of goal and worked well  with the team. But, of course, we can't forget Fortuna Sittard are obviously not a fair benchmark. We'll face tougher opponents in the Bundesliga," said Herrlich.

Following this fourth friendly, the Bayer 04 squad head off to a one-week training camp in Zell am See-Kaprun tomorrow, which also includes another two friendlies. Herrlich: "We're not up to speed at the moment. To get there, we'll continue to work well and intensively at the training camp to slowly get back into our normal rhythm"

Bayer 04: Özcan – Weiser (Henrichs 46'), Tah, S. Bender (Dragovic 80'), Wendell (Henrichs 46') – Baumgartlinger, Kohr (L. Bender 65') – Volland (Paulinho 72'), Havertz (Azhil 80'), Bailey (Schreck 80') – Alario


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