Xabi Alonso opted to play a 3-4-3 formation with four changes from last weekend's line-up in the friendly against Venezia (2-1): The skipper Lukas Hradecky returned in goal in place of Andrey Lunev. The defence at kick-off was made up of Edmond Tapsoba, Jonathan Tah for Odilon Kossounou plus Piero Hincapie. Mitchel Bakker, Exequiel Palacios and Nadiem Amiri again started – with Robert Andrich completing the midfield in place of Jeremie Frimpong. Playing up front were Moussa Diaby for Amine Adli, Adam Hlozek and Florian Wirtz.
The Bayer 04 bench at kick-off consisted of the keepers Niklas Lomb and Andrey Lunev, Odilon Kossounou, Sardar Azmoun, Kerem Demirbay, Amine Adli, Daley Sinkgraven, Zidan Sertdemir, Madi Monamay, Ayman Azhil and Karim Bellarabi. Jeremie Frimpong and Callum Hudson-Odoi were unavailable due to illness.
As in the previous friendlies, the Werkself again dominated play from the start, had a clear majority of possession and were therefore able to create numerous chances – again and again from Diaby who made another impressive appearance.
The Frenchman broke into the penalty area on 16 minutes and laid off the ball to teammate Amiri who hit his shot from the right side of the box straight at the FCK keeper Kamil Grabara. Four minutes later, Diaby produced a solo effort looking to strike in the same position on the right as Amiri. Once again the Copenhagen keeper was able to make the save.
The hosts had the best chance of the game up to that point on 34 minutes – and Diaby was again involved: The Werkself number 19 hit a free kick into the penalty area from the left and Tah rose to head home but his effort went inches right of the right hand post. The half-time score was 0-0.
Leverkusen again took control of the game in the second half. Wirtz had the first attempt on goal with a free kick on 56 minutes and two minutes later Diaby was unmarked in front of goal but the France international put his shot over the bar.
Alonso made four substitutions on 67 minutes: Kossounou came on for Hincapie in defence, Sinkgraven replaced Bakker on the left flank and Azmoun and Adli played up front in place of Diaby and Hlozek. Adli was put through two minutes later with an impressive pass from Wirtz and he was able to beat the substitute keeper Karl-Johan Johnsson with an impressive dribble before slotting the ball into the net to give the Werkself a well-deserved 1-0 lead.
The game settled down in the final minutes. There were no more clear-cut chances for Diaby and Co. after the opener but the Werkself remained in control of possession. The host defence was solid and did not give anything away. The match ended with a 1-0 scoreline.
The Alonso team ended the preparations in the winter break with a victory. The Bundesliga returns next weekend: The Black and Reds are away to eighth-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach on matchday 16. The kick-off at Borussia Park is at 17.30 CET.
Bayer 04: Hradecky – Tapsoba, Tah, Hincapie (Kossounou 67’) – Amiri (Bellarabi 81’), Andrich, Palacios (Sertdemir 81’), Bakker (Sinkgraven 67’) – Diaby (Adli 67’), Hlozek (Azmoun 67’), Wirtz (Demirbay 81’)
FC Copenhagen: Grabara (Johnsson 46’) – Diks (Kaastrup 67’), Vavro (Stamenic 67’), Lund Jensen (Daramy 46’), Jelert (Bergmann Johannesson 46’) – Clem (Falk 46’), Lerager (Claesson 46’), Haraldsson – Bardghji (Sahsah 58’), Cornelius (Ankersen 46’), Goncalves (Khocholava 46’)
Goals: 1-0 Adli (69’)
Booked: Palacios – Diks
Referee: Dr. Martin Thomsen (SV Donsbrüggen)
Attendance: 8,096 at the BayArena
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