Werkself coach Peter Bosz was finally able to call on his captain again for the season finale: Lars Bender was on the pitch for the first time since the Bundesliga restart at right back in place of Aleksandar Dragovic. And his twin brother was also able to start after recovering from injury, replacing Edmond Tapsoba in central defence. The other changes from the 2-0 defeat in Berlin: Daley Sinkgraven replaced Wendell at left back, Kerem Demirbay was in the centre of midfield in place of Charles Aránguiz, and Nadiem Amiri and Florian Wirtz were preferred up front ahead of Kai Havertz and Moussa Diaby.
The situation was clear: Bayer 04 had to hope that Gladbach would slip up against Hertha Berlin but also ensure victory in their own game against Mainz 05. And the Werkself put that part of the equation into effect early on. The game was just one minute old when Wirtz won the ball deep in the Mainz half. He picked out Amiri who found Volland in the box and the striker produced a fine dummy and then fired the ball into the back of the net – 1-0 for Bayer 04 after just 70 seconds. And, in spite of high temperatures at the BayArena, the Werkself pressed forward with vigour and Aarón just beat Wirtz to the ball from a sharp cross by Leon Bailey (5').
After a hectic start to the match, the Bosz team had everything under control, significantly more of the game and often presented Mainz with problems with some targeted pressing. The first chance for the visitors came after 20 minutes when Lukas Hradecky was forced to save a low shot from the youngster Jonathan Burkardt (19'). Given the temperatures, Bayer 04 were unable to maintain the high tempo from the opening minutes of the game. The match officials called for a drinks break in the middle of the first half taking account of the weather conditions.
The Werkself regained their strength during this break and again exercised pressure and created a flurry of chances: Wirtz slipped when he was in a promising position (26'), Bailey put an effort just wide of the top corner (27'), a shot from Amiri was deflected wide (29'), a strike from Amiri was ruled out for an offside decision against Volland (33') and shortly after that the Mainz keeper Florian Mueller kept out a lob from Volland (38'), and Jeremiah St. Juste blocked a shot from Julian Baumgartlinger after a fine move involving Wirtz and Amiri (44'). Ridle Baku had a chance for Mainz in added time (45+ one') but they could be happy to only be training 1-0 to Bayer 04 at the break. There was limited satisfaction at half-time as Mönchengladbach were also winning their game against Hertha Berlin 1-0.
Peter Bosz made two changes at half-time: Aránguiz replaced Demirbay in the centre of the park and Lars Bender's comeback ended when he was replaced by Weiser – and the sub almost gave the Werkself another lightning start in the second 45: A free kick from Amiri was met by the Werkself right back at the far post but his header from close range hit the upright (47'). Shortly after that, Bailey had the next great chance but the unmarked Jamaican put his effort wide of the target (51'). Mainz thought they had scored an equaliser in a counter-attack but Jean-Philippe Mateta was ruled offside (48'). Otherwise, Bayer 04 remained in control of the game and the two substitutes had further chances: Weiser headed a Bailey corner over the bar (54') and a long-range effort from Aránguiz also flew over the top of the target (58').
The next double substitution provided a boost. Amiri and Bailey were replaced by Havertz and Diaby (65') – and the latter set up a goal for Baumgartlinger at the end of an impressive Werkself attack. But VAR intervened and referee Benjamin Cortus then disallowed the goal because Wirtz stood on St. Juste's foot in the build-up to the strike (67'). Havertz also fitted in straightaway with a shot that was deflected just wide of the left-hand post (75'). A shot from Diaby then had the same outcome (78').
The superiority of the Werkself was evident throughout the game but that was not reflected on the scoreboard. Against the run of play, substitute Edimilson Fernandes curled a shot against the bar (85'). Even a double-digit victory would have not been enough for Bayer 04 as Borussia Mönchengladbach won their home game against Hertha Berlin 2-1. The Werkself end the Bundesliga campaign in fifth place. A curious fact: With 63 points, the team led by coach Peter Bosz are the best fifth-place side since the introduction of the three points for a win rule. In 2001, FC Bayern were champions with the same number of points. In 2020 it is only enough to put the Werkself in the Europa League but Bayer 04 could still qualify for the Champions League if they can win the Europa League tournament in North-Rhine Westphalia in August. And another title is a possibility for the Werkself: Bayer 04 meet FC Bayern at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin in the final of the DFB Cup in a week's time. The chance is there to lift the first trophy since 1993. We look forward to an exciting summer with the Werkself.
Bayer 04: Hradecky – L. Bender (Weiser 46'), Tah, S. Bender, Sinkgraven (Tapsoba 85') – Baumgartlinger, Demirbay (Aránguiz 46') – Wirtz, Amiri (Havertz 65'), Bailey (Diaby 65') – Volland
FSV Mainz 05: Müller - Baku, St. Juste (Hack 74'), Niakhaté, Aarón (Brosinski 46') - Latza, Kunde - Burkardt (Fernandes 85'), Onisiwo - Mateta (Ji 69'), Quaison (Öztunali 69')
Goals: 1-0 Volland (2’)
Referee: Benjamin Cortus (Röthenbach an der Pegnitz)
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