Master ball: Leverkusen is fighting for an impressive series against Bayern

Master ball: Leverkusen is fighting for an impressive series against Bayern
In the first leg, Exequiel Palacios converted a penalty to make the final score 2-2. (APA)

Judging by the consistently high level with which Leverkusen is marching through this football season, this top dance in the German Bundesliga may already have a decisive character. Should the Werkself win against record champions FC Bayern tomorrow (6.30 p.m., Sky), the league leaders’ lead would grow to five points.

“We want the maximum – in every competition,” emphasizes Leverkusen’s managing director Fernando Carro, looking at an impressive record of 30 competitive games with 26 wins and four draws. Under coach Xabi Alonso, Bayer is undefeated in three weddings – the championship, the DFB Cup and the Europa League. The prospect of getting rid of the unpopular nickname “Vizekusen” is pretty rosy. They are definitely tired of second places.

The last defeat in a competition match to date was on May 27, 2023 – 0:3 in Bochum. Bayern, who are worried about the use of goalie Manuel Neuer, are firstly plagued by injuries (for example, ÖFB team player Konrad Laimer is out) and secondly, they are a bit unstable. The 0-1 home defeat against Werder Bremen on January 21st is all too poorly remembered. Nevertheless, the Munich team has the right to bring Leverkusen to its knees. Not least thanks to the longer regeneration time.

While Bayer had a tough 90 minutes in the cup against Stuttgart (3:2) on Tuesday, Bayern were allowed to relax. For them, the DFB Cup chapter was already over in round two at 1. FC Saarbrücken.

How long Leverkusen can continue to rely on successful architect Xabi Alonso is questionable. The Spaniard is currently considered the hottest coaching stock; he is very popular at both FC Barcelona (as Xavi’s successor) and Liverpool FC (as Jürgen Klopp’s “heir”). Even the Bayern grandees have had Alonso on their list in the past. No wonder.

The first duel of the season ended 2-2

“Xabi’s handwriting is 100 percent recognizable, this is an outstanding performance, there is the greatest respect,” said Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel to his counterpart. Of course, the people of Munich have nothing to give away: “I want a statement performance from my boys. We’re going to Leverkusen to turn the tables and put the cards on the table,” said Tuchel.

Should Bayern win the hit in front of 30,210 fans, they would climb to first place. The Bay Arena has been sold out for weeks, Leverkusen was confronted with 180,000 ticket requests, and 2,675 tickets were requested on the Internet exchange for 60 euro tickets.

Maybe it will be as spectacular as on September 15th: back then, the two league dominators in Munich split 2-2 after a turbulent final phase. Leon Goretzka had given Bayern a 2-1 lead in the 86th minute, and in stoppage time Exequiel Palacios converted a penalty (94th) to make the final score. And what is happening today? “We need an almost perfect performance to have a chance,” believes Alonso.

21st round: Friday, 8.30 p.m.: Dortmund – Freiburg. Saturday, 3:30 p.m.: Union Berlin – Wolfsburg, Mönchengladbach – Darmstadt, Frankfurt – Bochum, Augsburg – Leipzig, Bremen – Heidenheim; 6.30 p.m.: Leverkusen – Bayern Munich. Sunday, 3:30 p.m.: Stuttgart – Mainz; 5.30 p.m.: Hoffenheim – Cologne.

Tabel: 1. Leverkusen 52, 2. Bayern Munich 50, 3. Stuttgart 40, 4. Dortmund 37, 5. Leipzig 36, 6. Frankfurt 31

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