The Werkself celebrated a successful start to the 2021/22 season in Leipzig. The two early goals from Kerem Demirbay from the penalty spot (6') and Karim Bellarabi with an assist from new signing Odilon Kossounou (14') set Bayer 04 on course to victory early in the game at the Regional League club. The team under coach Gerardo Seoane kept it tight at the back for the whole match. Demirbay made it 3-0 with a free kick in the final minutes of the encounter (87’). Here is the detailed match report.
The match had something special about it: For the first time in almost a year, the Werkself played in front of a crowd. Lukas Hradecky found it "brilliant to be able to play in front of spectators again." The joy at the return of fans was evident on the face of the new Werkself captain in an interview with ARD: "You could smell the sausages and see the beer. That's the real romance of football for me. We've all missed that."
The analysis of the football from the scorer of a brace Kerem Demirbay: "We did everything we could today not to concede a goal and we were 2-0 up at half-time. Lok(omotive) didn't play badly at times. Nevertheless, we controlled the game today and deserved to win."
The accurate conversion of a penalty for 1-0, a flighted corner for 2-0, and a cheeky free kick to make it 3-0: Kerem Demirbay was involved in all three Werkself goals thanks to his quality with a dead ball and he scored two of them himself. When the ball was in open play, the 28-year-old was in charge of proceedings in central midfield. The Werkself number 10 was awarded the Man of the Match trophy by the DFB. Bayer 04 followers on Twitter were fully behind that decision: Kerem secured 58% of the votes for the club Man of the Match ahead of Karim Bellarabi (19.6%) and Odilon Kossounou (13.1%).
It was predictable that the Werkself would have more possession than the underdogs from Leipzig – after 90 minutes it was 60.4% and 88% of successful passes demonstrated the domination of the ball. Anything other than obvious was that Bayer 04 would also have a significantly higher return than the battling Regional League side in terms of challenges. The Werkself won an impressive 54.4% of challenges – a crucial factor in the comfortable progress to the next round.
"The rump team of Bayer 04 did what was expected in Leipzig: They went through the first round of the cup," was the assessment of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger given the large number of absentees. "On a bumpy surface against a physical and motivated opponent everything else than a straightforward win would have been a surprise."
The EXPRESS reports on a "relaxed debut as Bayer 04 coach" for Gerardo Seoane and BILD focuses on the atmosphere at the venerable Bruno Plache Stadium: "The atmosphere was great even long after the final whistle – a great cup tie for both teams."
"Bayer 04 ease through to the second round," was the headline in RP Online of the match report from Saturday. "Against Lokomotive Leipzig, a solid performance and two goals from Kerem Demirbay was enough to go through to the second round." They described a "relatively modest win" but the Werkself did fulfil the requirements from Gerardo Seoane "to take the game seriously and win it."
The opening fixture for Bayer 04 is followed by the first Bundesliga match for Gerardo Seoane. On next Saturday, 14 August (kick-off: 15.30 CEST) the Werkself are playing at the Alte Försterei against last season's so impressive Union Berlin. In contrast to the Leipzig match, Jonathan Tah will be available again after serving a suspension in the cup. Karim Bellarabi, who had an impressive start to the game in Leipzig including a goal, will probably be missing due to an injury to his right thigh. "He will definitely miss the first two or three games for us," said Seoane at the post-match press conference.
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