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18.02.2024Bundesliga

The Werkself review #FCHB04: Patient road to victory

Bayer 04 continue to show no weakness: The top team in the Bundesliga are leading the way after the 2-1 win away to FC Heidenheim as they expand their outstanding run to 32 games unbeaten in all competitions. After the brilliant display in the 3-0 win against Bayern Munich, hard work was needed to earn a deserved victory at Heidenheim. The Werkself review.
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SUMMARY: FRIMPONG BREAKS THE DEADLOCK

Both teams went into the game with the longest unbeaten runs – the Werkself were aware there would be a tough nut to crack at Germany's highest ground against capable newcomers who were on a run of eight games without defeat. Bayer 04 dominated proceedings from start but found it difficult to create clear chances against a solid opposition defence. But the ball ended up in the back of the Heidenheim net in added time in the first half: Florian Wirtz used a couple of metres of space to put Amine Adli through on the left and his low cross was met by Jeremie Frimpong who fired the ball into the goal at the near post with a slightly deflected shot to open the scoring (45+2'). Frimpong posed a constant threat but others were involved in the second goal: Wirtz placed a wonderfully timed pass into the box as he picked out Adli who rounded the FCH keeper Kevin Müller to slot the ball into the empty net to double the lead at 2-0 (81’). Heidenheim refused to give up and they pulled a goal back at the end of the game with Tim Kleindienst scoring from a set piece. The match report.

REACTION: "WE WERE READY"

"It's not easy to win at Heidenheim but the team were very focused. The players did well in implementing what we prepared and discussed beforehand," said head coach Xabi Alonso. "We were ready and I like that. The players are not just on the case in big games but they were also wide-awake here and motivated to fight." Robert Andrich, who played for Heidenheim in 2018/19, said FCH had "very solid mentality" and he added: "For large parts of the game, we played did well in the match and played well. It wasn't always pretty and sometimes we had to smash the ball into the stands." Granit Xhaka highlighted one particular factor: "We remained patient. It was important for us not to always race back and to in a ping-pong match." The Switzerland international summed the match up as follows: "You have to win games like that if you want to stay at the top."

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WHAT THE PAPERS SAY: GREAT RECORD SET

"Levercool. Not pretty but masterly," reports the Bild am Sonntag as it highlights: "They've taken the lead 17 times this season – and ended up as victors 17 times." The Rheinische Post and the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger highlight Amine Adli in their individual analysis. "Set up the opener and scored the second goal. When it came to the crunch, the Morocco international born in France found a way round the Heidenheim defence," reports the RP. The Stadt-Anzeiger says: "With remarkable body language. Not everything worked but he tried again and again." The Kicker sees the three points for the Werkself as the result of a "hard-earned victory.".

PERSONNEL: PRAISE FOR THE GOALSCORERS

Two round number events happened in Heidenheim: Piero Hincapie clocked up 100 appearances for Bayer 04 at the Voith Arena and head coach Xabi Alonso was in post at Werkself for exactly 500 days on the matchday. A circumstance the Spaniard commentated on in a relaxed manner as usual: "I'm not celebrating the 500 days in the job. I'm happy with the game, the performance and the result." On social media, Bayer 04 fans named Jeremie Frimpong as the man of the match as he scored his seventh goal of the season and had six shots on the Heidenheim goal over the course of the game. There was also praise for the other goalscorer Amine Adli – from the coach: "Amine is in good form. We need his energy, his quality and his deep runs."

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STATS: STILL BREAKING RECORDS

With their 32nd game unbeaten this season, the Werkself have equalled the record set by Bayern Munich who also went 32 games undefeated in all competitions from December 2019 to September 2020. Bayer 04 have been top of the league for 18 games for the first time in the Bundesliga this season. The stats also favoured the Black and Reds in Heidenheim: Leverkusen were on top in shots on goal (18 to 6), in possession (60%) as well as in duels (51%) and pass completion (81% against 71% for Heidenheim).

OUTLOOK: FLOODLIT GAME AGAINST MAINZ

The next home game for Bayer 04 is under floodlights. The Werkself start matchday 33 in the Bundesliga when Mainz 05 visit the BayArena on Friday night with the kick-off at 20.30 CET.

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