What the papers say: 'Only reason to be cheerful before kick-off'

Sunday's 2-0 home defeat to Schalke 04 represents a setback for Bayer 04 – the media assessment of the result at the BayArena reflects that.

Die Welt reports: "For the up to this point outstanding Leverkusen side and coach Heiko Herrlich,  the defeat presents a bitter blow in terms of Champions League ambitions… The fact the match not only represents access to Europe's premier club competition in 2018/19 but also the opportunity to go to the World Cup in Russia was reflected by a look at the VIP section at the Leverkusen arena. Both Germany coach Joachim Löw and Andreas Köpke, Germany's goalkeeping coach, came to the match to check on the form of World Cup hopefuls such as Leon Goretzka or Max Meyer for Schalke or Kevin Volland and goalkeeper Bernd Leno in the Bayer team."

The Süddeutsche Zeitung highlights an event shortly before kick-off: "Bayer supporters on Sunday only had reason to be cheerful before kick-off. Via the screen at the stadium, the club announced Jonathan Tah had extended his contract. The central defender, absent on Sunday due to a bout of flu, was under contract to 2020 and now until 2023. 'Of course, I want to win titles and that's why I've signed the deal,' said the 22-year-old international  in a video message...Bayer played in an unusually unstructured way under the eyes of Germany coach Joachim Löw and were unable to find gaps in the well organised ranks of the visitors. The first decent opportunity fell to Leon Bailey when the Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann failed to clear with a punch. The Jamaican, who scored his first Bundesliga goal in the 1-1 draw earlier in the season to get off to a flying start, missed his chance on 20 minutes."

The Bild Zeitung also referred to the contract extension agreed with Jonathan Tah. "The central defender has a release clause  –  but Bayer have been able to hold on to Tah in spite of great interest from top clubs like Barca, Juve and, above all, Dortmund."

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung  headline reads, 'Bayer outfoxed by Schalke' and their report directly quotes the Werkself sporting director: "'We've tumbled out of the top four and need to turn it round asap,' demanded Rudi Völler. Matters were made worse on 38 minutes when Dominik Kohr was sent off, reducing the Werkself to ten men. The loss of Kohr made it even more difficult for Leverkusen to find their rhythm."

The Kölner Stadt Anzeiger adopts the following view: "After the Werkself controlled the game for the opening minutes, the visitors took the lead with their first good move. After Volland lost possession, Daniel Caligiuri played a long diagonal ball to Guido Burgstaller. The Austrian beat the unfortunate Bayer central defender Panagiotis Retsos before slotting a low shot past Bernd Leno into the bottom left corner in the Leverkusen goal (11')."

The Kicker analysis drawers a short conclusion: "In a game, that didn't really deserve to have a winner, Burgstaller exploited Retsos' blunder to score the important opening goal." Bernd Leno was named man of the match: "The keeper was always on his toes. Bayer were kept in the game right to the end thanks to two brilliant saves from Goretzka (29') and Embolo (83')." The specialist journal also considers Kohr's dismissal: "Dominik Kohr's sending off is a well-known source of annoyance. Bayer had to play a third big game with ten men following the 2-2 draw with Leipzig and the 1-1 draw with BVB. 'It's difficult if you decimate yourself. If it's eleven against eleven then you can come back against Schalke,' declared a critical Rudi Völler but he did not make the mistake of blaming everything on this one incident. He added: 'We didn't do well before that.'"


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