Werkself review #BMGB04: Lots of efficiency and league comeback

A successful start to 2023 and a fifth league win in succession: The Werkself maintained their improved form with a 3-2 win away to Borussia Mönchengladbach. In the final game on matchday 16, the team under head coach Xabi Alonso went 3-0 up but were under pressure at the end due to a late brace from Borussia. And it was not just the points return that proved pleasing from a Black and Red perspective on a freezing Sunday night as there was also a very special comeback. The Werkself review…


The Werkself were wide awake defensively from the kick-off and scarcely gave Borussia any clear-cut chances. The team under head coach Xabi Alonso struck on 21 minutes in the first dangerous attack: Mitchel Bakker was clinical as he scored with a tap-in after Adam Hlozek had hit the post. Amine Adli doubled the lead at 2-0 (42') just before half-time with a solo run taking him past Borussia central defender Nico Elvedi. Both teams again and again created goalscoring opportunities in the second 45 but the next goal only came on 67 minutes. The introduction of Nadiem Amiri just three minutes earlier quickly paid off as the Werkself number 11 appeared to seal the victory. Hope was restored for a large part of the 53,336 crowd at Borussia Park thanks to a late brace from Lars Stindl (82', 90+3') but the visitors from Leverkusen were able to hold on to the lead.



Head coach Xabi Alonso, skipper Lukas Hradecky and goalscorer Nadiem Amiri spoke about the performance in post-match interviews. Goalkeeper Hradecky: "You can see we are fit. We played good football for 70 minutes. It's just great to be back in the Bundesliga."

Amiri, who came off the bench on 64 minutes and scored to make it 3-0 three minutes later, said happily: "We had problems at the start but soon found our way into the game. The counter attacks were impressive, the speed we had was exceptional. We made it unnecessarily exciting at the end." At the same time, the Werkself number 11 looked forward to forthcoming challenges: "Xabi has told us we shouldn't think about being back at the top again as we've given away too many points."

The coach was happy on the one hand but also self-critical at the same time: "We knew Gladbach would play a lot of passes between the lines where they are strong. That meant there was space on the wings and we used it. Transition also worked really well. But there's always the risk that a goal will change the way you think. It was an important lesson for us. With intensity we play well and can win, without intensity it will be very difficult."




Following the long winter break, Xabi Alonso opted to play the same formation as in the last games for the World Cup: three at the back, two wing-backs playing high up the pitch, two number sixes and three up front. Along with Lukas Hradecky in goal, the line-up was as follows: The Spanish coach opted to play Odilon KossounouEdmond Tapsoba and Piero Hincapie in defence, Robert Andrich and Exequiel Palacios started in midfield with Jeremie Frimpong and the above-mentioned Mitchel Bakker on the flanks, Moussa Diaby began in the forward line along with the previously mentioned Adam Hlozek and Amine Adli. That meant the Leverkusen starting eleven had an average age of 24.

Also of interest: Goalscorer Bakker not only netted the opener but also made his 50th appearance in a Black and Red shirt. Congratulations. In addition to the three points, a substitution on 74 minutes brought a highlight of the day for every Bayer 04 fan: Diaby was replaced by Florian Wirtz to great celebration and vocal support from the Leverkusen fans in the away section. The 19-year-old midfielder was making his first appearance for the Werkself since his torn cruciate in March last year.





A look at the stats shows the hosts just had the edge: The Foals had a total of 15 shots on goal with the Werkself having two fewer. In terms of possession, Borussia had 60% and Leverkusen 40%. The Farke team also won 51% of duels, the Black and Reds two per cent less. 90% of all Mönchengladbach passes found their target and with Andrich and Co. it was 82%.

Another fact worth mentioning: Including the game between Borussia and Bayer 04, a total of 41 goals were scored on matchday 16 – more than on any other matchday this season.


The Bild Zeitung headline: "Fourth win in succession! Bayer magic & nerves." called it a continued "comeback". The Rheinische Post In turn primarily praised the quick play of the Werkself: "Too quick for Gladbach" and added: "Adli shines in Bayer win at Gladbach." The 22-year-old also earned the top mark from RP: "The Frenchman was very dynamic, beat his opponents in tight spaces and showed one or two great tricks at the same time. He clinically rounded off his successful foot race with the almost helpless looking Nico Elvedi to make it 2-0. The 22-year-old also provided the assist for the third goal [...].”



Following the away win in the Rhineland clash, the Werkself now have two games at the BayArena: First, VfL Bochum visit Leverkusen on Wednesday 25 January (kick-off: 20.30 CET). That is followed four days later by the meeting with Borussia Dortmund. The kick-off on Sunday 29 January is at 17.30 CET.


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