Kerem Demirbay summed up the game that saw the Werkself have 20 shots compared with six for TSG. “We had enough chances in the second half but were unlucky in certain situations,” said the midfielder after the match against his former Hoffenheim team-mates.
Peter Bosz had identified a week-on-week improvement in his team since the DFB Cup game at Aachen and he recognised a further improvement in the 3-1 win at Fortuna Düsseldorf compared with league opener against Paderborn (3-2). It was therefore no surprise the Bayer 04 coach opted for the same starting eleven that took the field against Fortuna.
In spite of oppressive heat and temperatures way above 30 degrees, the Werkself got off to a bright start. In the very first attack in the opening minute Leon Bailey broke down the left wing to the goalline but his cross was blocked before Kai Havertz could shoot. Shortly after that, Karim Bellarabi and Lars Bender combined well but Havertz was once again prevented from applying the final touch in the box (5’). Bayer 04 were immediately on the front foot and in the game.
Patience was the order of the day against a well-organised Hoffenheim side. The first threat from TSG came on a quarter of an hour when a shot from Pavel Kaderabek deflected off Ihlas Bebou and rolled past the post. Otherwise, the visitors were compact and disciplined as they tried to cut the tempo of the encounter. A Sven Bender header from a Demirbay corner flew well wide of the target (23’). It was an intensive and tough battle for every single effort on goal for the Werkself, who struggled to get the ball into the opposition penalty area. The best chance to take the lead fell to Hoffenheim when Ishak Belfodil broke down the right to be in a one-on-one with Lukas Hradecky but he opted to pass to Bebou rather than shoot himself (29’). That was close!
A header from Jonathan Tah was turned away for a corner (32’). There was a clash of heads involving Demirbay and Stefan Posch and Kerem had to receive treatment (45’). The two sides went into the half-time break with no goals scored. “It’s difficult in the heat. We had a lot of possession but needed to have more tempo and accuracy in our passing,” said the injured Werkself striker Joel Pohjanpalo to Sky at half-time.
TSG had the first chance after the restart but Hradecky had no trouble in saving the effort from Belfodil (47’). When Havertz broke through on the right Oliver Baumann confidently claimed his cross (53’). A rocket from Leon Bailey saw the ball hit the side netting (57’), a volley from Volland from a Bailey cross was on its way into the corner of the net but Ermin Bicakcic deflected the ball wide of the target (59’). Belfodil twice posed a threat at the other end (59’/61’).
Peter Bosz made two substitutions bringing on Lucas Alario for Volland and Nadiem Amiri for Demirbay (62’). That almost paid off straight away but Amiri put his shot from a Bailey cross over the goal at the far post (65’). Bayer 04 upped the tempo in search of an opener. Bailey just failed to connect with a whipped-in cross from Karim Bellarabi (67’), A cracking volley from Bellarabi was blocked by a TSG defender (68’).
Havertz was left on the deck after a collision with Sebastian Rudy but was able to continue after treatment (77’). A cross from Bellarabi hit the near post (79’). From the fifteenth Leverkusen corner, Sven Bender hit a shot to the near post but Baumann saved (82’). The Hoffenheim box was under siege and the visitors struggled to cope with a Werkself power play and the priority was damage limitation. A volley from Charles Aránguiz went just wide (87’). A physical challenge from Kevin Vogt on Amiri on the edge of the box went undetected (88’).
A header from Kevin Akpoguma from a free kick flew past the target (90’), Bosz had just brought on Julian Baumgartlinger for Aránguiz. There was six minutes added time. But the match ended in the first goalless draw between the two teams in the 23rd meeting in the Bundesliga.
After the first international break of the new season, Bayer 04 are away to Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga (Saturday, 14 September, 15.30 CET).
Bayer 04: Hradecky – L. Bender, Zah, S. Bender, Wendell – Aránguiz (Baumgartlinger 89') – Bellarabi, Havertz, Demirbay (Amiri 62'), Bailey – Volland (Alario 62')
TSG Hoffenheim: Baumann – Posch, Vogt, Bicakcic (Akpoguma 73') – Kaderabek, Geiger, Rudy, Grillitsch (Samassékou 83'), Stafylidis – Bebou, Belfodil (Locadia 62')
Referee: Felix Zwayer (Berlin)
Booked: Tah, Alario – Posch, Vogt
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