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20.02.2023Bundesliga

Werkself review #B04M05: Crucial element of defending

The Werkself lost 3-2 against Mainz 05 on Bundesliga matchday 21. The 27,002 spectators at the BayArena did witness a turbulent encounter with five goals, several VAR interventions, a missed penalty plus nine yellow and one red card. The Werkself review...
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SUMMARY: FIRST TOUGH, THEN TURBULENT

Both sides initially found it difficult to penetrate the opposition penalty areas in the opening minutes. The best chance of the game up to that moment fell to the team under head coach Xabi Alonso on 23 minutes: From a Kerem Demirbay free kick, Sardar Azmoun was caught on the foot by Mainz player Anton Stach and referee Robert Schröder awarded a penalty to Bayer 04. As in the game against Borussia Dortmund, it was Edmond Tapsoba who stepped up to take the spot kick but the goalkeeper Finn Dahmen was able to anticipate the shot from the defender and thereby prevent Leverkusen taking the lead. Anthony Caci then gave the visitors the lead three minutes later (26’). An evenly balanced encounter followed: Nadiem Amiri levelled six minutes later but Leandro Barreiro restored the lead for the team under head coach Bo Svensson before half-time (45+4’). Leverkusen equalised again in the second half through substitute striker Patrik Schick (58’). Marcus Ingvartsen converted a penalty for Mainz on 82 minutes - Amine Adli had fouled Silvan Widmer in the penalty area and he was shown a red card - to seal a 3-2 home defeat for Leverkusen. HERE is the match report.

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REACTION: "WE NEED MORE BALANCE"

Xabi Alonso summed up the game in the post-match press conference as follows: “We didn’t defend well for the first and second goals. The second half was wild. It isn’t that we can’t do it but we have to defend better and concentrate more.” The Spaniard also identified “more stability in our performances, control of our emotions and responsibility for individual player performances and those of their teammates” as crucial factors in the games over the coming weeks. Alonso added: “You can’t just win with forwards, that’s not how football works. We have to learn to defend better and find balance. That is now the target of our work for the Bundesliga and in Europe.”

Goalscorer Nadiem Amiri spoke to Werkself TV: “We rely too much on our attack. We defended badly as a group. We want to and have thought about it but we don’t seem to be focussed enough. I include myself and everybody else and we’re being punished hard for that at the moment.”

PERSONNEL: SCHICK RETURNS

Patrik Schick is back: After the striker last played in November and was sidelined for almost four months with a groin injury, the Werkself number 14 marked his Bundesliga comeback on Sunday night with a goal to level at 2-2 142 seconds after coming on as substitute on 56 minutes. Xabi Alonso also talked about the return of the Czech Republic international at the post-match press conference: “It is something positive beyond the defeat. We’ve always said we are patient and that we have a plan with him. Therefore, we’re even happier that he’s scored. That was important for him and for us. We need him.”

Less pleasing were the yellow cards for Piero Hincapie and Jonathan Tah plus the red card for Amine Adli, which means they are all suspended for the next Bundesliga match away to SC Freiburg on Sunday 26 February (kick-off: 15.30 CET).

 

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STATS:  MORE SHOTS ON GOAL, MORE POSSESSION

Clear numbers: The Werkself had 21 shots on goal, Mainz had twelve attempts on Lukas Hradecky’s goal. The Alonso team were also just ahead in terms of possession and challenges made with 67 per cent and 51 per cent. The same was true with pass completion at 83 per cent and 62 per cent for the Svensson team.

WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: FROM "SETBACK" to "MEDIOCRITY"

The Rheinische Post described the defeat as the “next setback”, the Leverkusener Anzeiger headline read “Chaos at the BayArena“. The kicker opted for “Everyone under the microscope” and the Kölnische Rundschau reported “grey mediocrity.”

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OUTLOOK: SECOND LEG IN PRINCIPALITY

The next fixtures are coming up: The Werkself head off to the Côte d’Azur on Wednesday for the second leg of the play-off in the UEFA Europa League against AS Monaco (kick-off: 18.45 CET). After the principality comes the Breisgau. The Bundesliga away game at SC Freiburg is on Sunday 26 February (kick-off: 15.30 CET).

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