Werkself review #B04FCU: ‘Proud of the lads’

The winning run for the Werkself continues with another three points picked up in the home game against Union Berlin. Bayer 04 go into the final international break of 2023 top of the table thanks to a twelfth consecutive win. All the latest facts, stats and reaction to the 4-0 victory over the Irons is here in the Werkself review.

Summary: Umpteen attaking moves

The Werkself started as usual with lots of possession while Union Berlin sat back deep in their own half with a tight defence. A long-range effort into the top corner from Alejandro Grimaldo on 23 minutes set the ball rolling. That was followed by a Victor Boniface header and other promising openings for Florian Wirtz but Bayer 04 ended up taking a narrow 1-0 lead into the break. The team from the capital were on the case after the restart but Odilon Kossounou scored from a corner with his head to make it 2-0 (57') during Union's best phase – it was the first Bundesliga goal for the Ivorian. A Jeremie Frimpong shot was cleared off the line a minute later but Jonathan Tah made it 3-0 from a set-piece (73'). Substitute Nathan Tella rounded off the scoring ten minutes later with his first Bundesliga goal from a perfectly executed counter-attack. The match report is HERE.

Reaction: "Really happy"

After the game, Granit Xhaka talked about a "very focused performance with lots of quality. We produced a great display despite the long journey during the week (to the Azerbaijani capital Baku, ed.).” Team-mate Nathan Tella, who rounded off the scoring at 4-0 late on, said: "I'm really happy to have scored my first Bundesliga goal and picked up another win with the lads. We had loads of chances today and we could have won by a bigger margin."

Florian Wirtz

Head coach Xabi Alonso summed the game up as follows: "We played with good energy and high concentration. Union kept it very tight at the back and there wasn't much space." Talking about the performances of his team in recent weeks, the Spaniard said: "We are very happy with the we’ve played since the last international break." Asked about the club record of 31 out of 33 points available in the Bundesliga, Alonso said: "Breaking the record was not a special target. It's a consequence of the performances. I'm proud of the lads."

What the papers say: "Bayer crush Union"

The Bild-Zeitung awarded top marks to 04 Werkself players: Odilon Kossounou, Jonathan Tah, Alejandro Grimaldo and Florian Wirtz with six other Leverkusen outfield players picking up the next highest ratings. The Rheinische Post headline read "Bayer crush Union Berlin" and they report a "game in one direction." The Süddeutsche Zeitung talked about a "one-sided affair," and the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger highlighted set-pieces in their headline. "The headline in the kicker reads "Leverkusen send Union packing."

Personnel: Long-range ace and set-piece king

Alejandro Grimaldo's opener was his fourth goal this season from outside the box – that is the highest number amongst all players in the top five European leagues in 2023/24. Jonathan Tah’s strength in attack is at set-pieces: The 1.95 metre tall defender has scored all of his eleven Bundesliga goals from dead balls – eight from corners and three from free kicks.

Jubel nach Abpfiff

Stats: Club records tumble

The match stats reflect the emphatic result: 69% possession, 92% pass completion (Union: 79%) and 18 shots on goal to two with a balanced number of completed duels clearly favour the Werkself who once again set several top numbers and broke records.

Bayer 04 have won all of the last twelve matches – a current club record in one season. There has not been one single defeat in the first 17 games this term and that has never happened before since promotion to the Bundesliga in 1979. French club Nice are the only other team in the top five European leagues alongside Leverkusen still unbeaten in 2023/24 and they have played five games less than the Werkself. The 31 points achieved after eleven league games is also another record – it's the best Bundesliga season in the club's history. In the history of the Bundesliga that is shared with Bayern Munich who had the same number of points at this point in 2015/16.

Outlook: Via Bremen to Gothenburg

The home win against Union Berlin is followed by the last international break of the year with a lot of Werkself players in action with their national teams. The next league fixture for Bayer 04 is on Saturday 25 November away to Werder Bremen with the kick-off at 15.30 CET. The next opponents in the Europa League are Häcken. The game against the Swedish club in Gothenburg kicks off at 21.00 CET on Thursday 30 November. There are six matches for the Werkself in December before a well-deserved festive break.

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