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18.12.2023Bundesliga

Werkself review #B04SGE: A congenial duo and the next clean sheet

Three goals, three points – and a goalscorer in Christmas attire. Bayer 04 beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 in the penultimate league match of 2023 and once again impressed on the pitch. In front of a full house at the BayArena, the hosts dominated proceedings for almost the full 90 minutes and extended their unbeaten run to 24 games. The Werkself review.
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Summary: Decisive brace

The Werkself set course for a home win early on: Victor Boniface opened the scoring for a dominant and free-flowing Bayer 04 XI just after the 15-minute mark. In defence, Jonathan Tah foiled Frankfurt's best chance in the first half to deny Tuta (28'), and Alejandro Grimaldo hit a free kick into the side netting at the other end (35'). Leverkusen took a narrow lead into half-time but quickly doubled the lead after the restart with Jeremie Frimpong scoring from close range (52'). Florian Wirtz made it 3-0 five minutes later. Wirtz (80') and Piero Hincapie (85') both hit the woodwork in the closing stages and a penalty for Bayer 04 was cancelled out after the intervention of VAR (90+4’). Match number 24 without defeat this season was celebrated by goalscorer Frimpong in suitable festive fashion when he pinched the Santa Claus coat from club mascot Brian the Lion after the final whistle. The match report.

Reaction: After Bochum "full speed ahead into the New Year"

Asked about the choreography from the Werkself fans ahead of kick-off, which included the Bundesliga Meisterschale, head coach Xabi Alonso said: "They can celebrate and dream. It's great for us for them to have that feeling. But for us in the dressing room it's all about taking it phase by phase. The current one ends on Wednesday and then it's off again in January." And he added: "The second goal from Jerry (Jeremie Frimpong, ed.) gave us stability. After that we played with intent on and off the ball. I'm very happy with the performance and the win."

Jeremie Frimpong

Granit Xhaka also dialled down on the euphoria after the twelfth victory in the 15th league fixture saying "nothing's been won yet. There's no title winner after six months. We have to take care during the holidays. And then it's full speed ahead into the New Year."

What the papers say: "The art of football with a minor blemish"

The headline in the Rheinische Post reads "Clinical Leverkusen send Frankfurt packing." And furthermore: "The team under coach Xabi Alonso were only really stretched in the first ten minutes." The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung talks about Bayer 04 as "Christmas champions", the Leverkusener Anzeiger of "the art of football with a minor blemish" referring to chances converted. Jeremie Frimpong, Florian Wirtz and Victor Boniface are all in the kicker Team of the Matchday. And the Bild Zeitung said the Werkself "were on fire" in the second half.

Personnel: This duo have made their mark

The provider for the Florian Wirtz goal to make it 2-0 was almost predictable: Victor Boniface provided the assist for a Bundesliga goal scored by Wirtz for the third time in succession. Moreover: Wirtz set up the opening goal netted by Boniface. They appear to be working well together. And on the subject of Boniface: The Nigeria player clocked up goal involvements 15 and 16 against Eintracht Frankfurt. No other Werkself player, making their debut for the club since records were kept in 2004/05, has been involved in as many goals in their first 15 Bundesliga appearances for Bayer 04. Wirtz and Boniface received top marks from kicker.

Victor Boniface und Florian Wirtz

Stats: The next clean sheet

The Werkself have set another club record: 39 points from the first 15 league games of the season is a first. Only Borussia Dortmund (twice) and Bayern Munich (three times) have picked up that many points at the same stage. That run is also due to consistency in the first 45 minutes with Bayer 04 keeping a clean sheet in the first half for the ninth time – no other team in the Bundesliga has done that.

The match between the Werkself and Eintracht Frankfurt brought together the two goalkeepers with the highest number of saves. Lukas Hradecky kept a clean sheet, for the sixth time in 15 league games – and that is only surpassed in this Bundesliga campaign by Bayern Munich. Xabi Alonso commented on that at the post-match press conference: "It's also very important for us to not have conceded today."

Outlook: Final outing in 2023

The Werkself have a third home game in succession on Wednesday 20 December (kick-off: 20.30 CET) with VfL Bochum the visitors. That is followed by the winter break. The first Bundesliga fixture in 2024 is also the last match of the Hinrunde: The away game at FC Augsburg is on Saturday 13 January with the kick-off at 15.30 CET.

 

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