Without key defender Jonathan Tah (infection) in the squad but with goalkeeper and captain Lukas Hradecky in the starting eleven, the dominant Werkself were unable to break through the deep-lying opposition defence early on. But Moussa Diaby was able to break the deadlock four minutes before half-time. VfB new signing Tiago Tomás levelled soon after the restart (49’), Amine Adli restored the lead for the Black and Reds three minutes later. Florian Wirtz appeared to have secured the three points late on when he made it 3-1 (86’). Tomás scored again two minutes later but Patrik Schick clocked up goal number nineteen of the season in the last minute to finally put the game to bed with the scoreline at 4-2. HERE is the match report.
10,000 spectators were allowed to attend the match at the BayArena based on the latest coronavirus regulations issued by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia – to the great pleasure of the Werkself players. “We are very happy the fans are back. That made it even more fun,” said goalscorer Florian Wirtz. The 18-year-old commented on the result: “These are three very important points for us.” Lukas Hradecky added: “We work for each other. Our attitude and aggression were right again.”
Head coach Gerardo Seoane praised the next-to-bottom Stuttgart team. VfB “made it difficult for us. There wasn’t much space either between the lines or up front.” Nevertheless, the boss believes the victory was deserved looking at the whole game.
With his goal and an assist, playmaker Florian Wirtz once again played a big part in the Werkself winning. The 18-year-old has so far scored seven goals and provided ten assists this season. Head coach Gerardo Seoane on the youngster: “Florian is very effective in the box, he makes the right decisions and he has incredible mental strength. What he produces every week surprises us again and again, even when we see him the whole week.” Wirtz earned top marks in the BILD am Sonntag and Bayer 04 fans voted him as their Man of the Match on Twitter.
Four wins and a draw – that is the impressive haul for the Black and Reds in 2022. That keeps the Werkself top of the form table in the second half of the season. The hosts were also superior to the visitors VfB Stuttgart in all the stats with the exception of a balanced number of challenges and tackles. Bayer 04 had 20 shots at goal compared with seven for the Swabians and the pass completion rate was 88 per cent (VfB: 75 per cent), plus the Seoane team also had an impressive 71 per cent possession. A deserved victory at the end of the day.
“Bayer continue run,” is the headline in the Rheinische Post. The report continues: “The Werkself maintain course for the Champions League. […] Leverkusen were clearly on top in the opening stages giving the visitors from Baden-Württemberg virtually no space to develop their game and they demonstrated their passing ability in a number of tricky situations.” The WAZ talks about the Werkself who “are still on fire,” and BILD am Sonntag writes about the “next Leverkusen goal fest.” The Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger finds the “Black and Reds are currently the gold standard in the league.” And furthermore: “Leverkusen’s pursuit of second place can continue. Bayer 04 are not currently really threatened from below. The offensive strength of the Werkself is a unique feature of the Bundesliga at the moment.”
The Werkself are away to Mainz 05 in the next game on Friday 18 February (Kick-off: 20.30 CET). That is followed a week later by the home game against Arminia Bielefeld and 5 March brings the big match against league leaders Bayern Munich.
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The final international break of 2023 is over and now Bayer 04 start a busy run of fixtures up to the winter break. The first of eight games across all competitions before Christmas is today’s away fixture at Werder Bremen (kick-off: 15.30 CET). The latest updates on the game at the Weserstadion.Show more