The clash between Bayer 04 and Bayern Munich on Sunday was the first top match between first and second this term (before matchday eight). The media interest in this encounter was suitably high and the 29,542 spectators at a sold-out BayArena also played their part. The Black and Reds made a decent start. That made it even more annoying for the Seoane team to concede early on: From a free kick, Robert Lewandowski evaded his markers and scored with his heel to make it 1-0 (4').
The record champions then moved up the gears and Bayer 04 were unable to really get into the game. The result: Lukas Hradecky had to pick the ball out of the net four times in seven minutes – Lewandowski (30'), Thomas Müller (34' and Serge Gnabry (35', 37') scored for FC Bayern. One positive: Leverkusen looked more solid at the back in the second half. And the Werkself were also more effective up front. Patrik Schick scored a consolation goal. The Werkself did not concede in the second half with the game ending in a 5-1 defeat. The match report can be found HERE.
"We didn't have a good day, we didn't get stuck in, weren't aggressive and didn't challenge well. We were always one step behind," said Gerardo Seoane after the match. And defender Jonathan Tah was also critical: "We are disappointed, it was our fault. We were asleep at the start. We can't afford to do that against a team like that." Furthermore, the 25-year-old declared that setbacks were part of a development process: "We win and lose together. We learn from it. We have a strong mentality and it won't set us back."
Captain Lukas Hradecky went to the home end after the final whistle to talk to the Bayer 04 fans. "It was a good exchange of views," said the Finn who later looked forward on interview: "Now we need to get our heads up and build on the performance in the second half. We face our next challenge in the Europa League in Seville on Thursday. We want to show a response straightaway." HERE is the TV interview with Hradecky.
Apart from the result, there were two pieces of good news from a Werkself perspective on Sunday: Edmond Tapsoba and Zidan Sertdemir were in the squad for the first time this season. Tapsoba suffered a torn ankle ligament in July. Coach Seoane brought on the 6' 3" striker for the second half in place of Paulinho to give him his comeback after a serious injury. Youngster Sertdemir was also in the Bayer 04 senior squad for the first time but did not play. Otherwise he would have been the youngest Leverkusen player in the Bundesliga in the club's history – Florian Wirtz (currently top of that ranking) made his debut at the age of 17 years and 15 days while Sertdemir will only celebrate his 17th birthday on 4 February 2022.
Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sané, Robert Lewandowski – FC Bayern undoubtedly have great quality in their ranks. That is also reflected in the match stats: The record champions were free-flowing and clearly on the front foot against Bayer 04. Gnabry and Co. had 27 shots with 11 on target against keeper Hradecky. The Werkself had six shots at goal against the world's best keeper Manuel Neuer. Kerem Demirbay (85) had the most touches of the ball for Leverkusen with Joshua Kimmich (116) having the most for FCB. But the number of the day was 29,542. That many spectators found their way on Sunday to the BayArena with a sell-out crowd for the first time since the beginning of March 2020 and the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Clinical Bayern," was the headline in the Frankfurter Rundschau on Monday morning and the paper also highlighted what Bayer 04 head coach Seoane said at the press conference ("They were very efficient against us"). The team from Munich, according to the newspaper, "underlined their dominant position in the Bundesliga with a brilliant offensive display and defended their top of the table position in the manner of champions." The kicker observed that the record champions played "as if from the same mould" and the Werkself acted "much too slowly." After the break, Seoane brought on Tapsoba in place of Paulinho and switched to a back five. "Through that and other changes, the coach achieved more resistance. Bayer then got into the game," was the analysis in the football journal.
It's one game after the next for the Werkself in the coming days and weeks: The clash with FC Bayern was the first of seven matches in 21 days. The Black and Reds are next in action in Seville on Thursday, 21 October (kick-off: 18.45 CEST). The third matchday in the Europa League sees the Werkself travel to southern Spain to play Real Betis. Both teams won their opening two matches on the European stage. Bayer 04 are away in the Bundesliga on Sunday, 24 October (kick-off: 15.30 CEST) in the derby at FC Köln.
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