Peter Bosz was less than happy: "We're in the fourth week. We ought to be winning. There's a lot of work ahead of us. I'm not worried but it was disappointing."
The Werkself line-up against the Dutch top-flight side Heracles Almelo included Jonathan Tah and Leon Bailey, recently returned from holiday, but Joel Pohjanpalo was rested as a precautionary measure. The game looked promising at the start with the hosts hitting the woodwork through U19 youngster Ayman Azhil. However it was the team from the Netherlands that struck first: Sylvester van der Water scored on eleven minutes to give the visitors a flattering lead.
Having taken the lead, Almelo dropped back into their own half – making it hard for the Peter Bosz team to find gaps. The visitors were quick to challenge, close down space and forced the Werkself to play long balls. Mitchell Weiser had to go off on 24 minutes after being kicked on the foot with youth player Samed Onur taking his place. Just before the half-time whistle, Mauro Juniore made it 2-0 for Almelo.
Peter Bosz made two changes at half-time: Birthday boy Niklas Lomb replaced 'Rambo' Özcan and Cem Türkmen came on for Panos Retsos who was taken off as a precaution after also being kicked on the foot. After the restart, the Werkself went all out to reduce the deficit. The best chance early on fell to Lucas Alario but he failed to connect properly with his header. Fortunately for the Werkself at the other end of the pitch, Alexander Merkel missed the opportunity to make it 3-0 for the visitors with an open goal. Then everything went quickly: Paulinho, who produced a very impressive performance, chased after a long ball and pulled a goal back to make it 2-1 on 56 minutes. Three minutes later it was Bailey's turn to score to level at 2-2 also after a fine pass from Türkmen. Almelo regained the lead through Cyriel Dessers on 61 minutes and then Adrian Szöke restored the two-goal lead at 4-2. Alario scored from the penalty spot after a foul on Onur for the final score of 4-3.
"We have to be more aggressive in midfield and then we won't concede," said Bayer 04 sporting director Simon Rolfes at half-time. "We face a challenge. The friendly is a good opportunity for the players who aren't quite up to speed to get back on top of their game."
Bayer 04: Özcan (Lomb) – Retsos (Türkmen), Tah, Paulinho, Bailey, Alario, Baumgartlinger (Sarpei), Jedvaj, Wendell, Weiser, Azhil
In the second friendly, Peter Bosz used eleven fresh players. The Werkself were in full control against Vitesse Arnhem from the start. After just 04 minutes, the ball was in the back of the opposition net after a good move involving Volland and Bellarabi that set up Moussa Diaby but the offside flag was raised. After an impressive phase of pressure from the Werkself early on, Arnhem were able to break free but they again and again produced errors that the Werkself were not really able to exploit. Vitesse defended, the Black and Reds – today wearing the new grey away kit – endeavoured to use space and find their way round the opposition back four.
Lukas Hradecky was almost redundant in the first half with the only real threat coming on 23 minutes when Aleksandar Dragovic made a sensational clearance at the last minute to frustrate a counter-attack by the visitors. Then the Werkself went behind out of the blue when Max Clark scored but it didn't take the Werkself long to equalise. A corner from Kerem Demirbay was met perfectly by Sven Bender as he headed home a deserved equaliser at 1-1 (32').
In the second half, the Werkself continued to dominate proceedings. The impressive Diaby forced the Arnhem keeper Remko Pasveer into making a save just after the restart and, shortly after that, a Dutch leg prevented the Werkself taking the lead. Bayer 04 were again in charge in the second half but lacked penetration up front. The Werkself then lost their way in the final minutes. Tiredness crept in and the heavy turf at Kurtekotten took its toll. Hradecky was tested just before the final whistle but he was on his toes and able to secure the draw.
Peter Bosz on the 1-1 draw with Arnhem: "The start was okay. Then the game increasingly petered out. We lost the ball much too easily and that invited the opponents to counter-attack. Better positional play is essential against an opponent like that."
Bayer 04: Hradecky – S. Bender, Dragovic, L. Bender (Türkmen 46'), Demirbay, Diaby, Sinkgraven, Havertz, Stanilewicz, Volland, Bellarabi
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