Europa League: Leverkusen’s painful Rome defeat

Europa League: Leverkusen’s painful Rome defeat

Bayer Leverkusen could have gotten over the 0:1 in the European Cup semifinals. But the injuries to Robert Andrich and Odilon Kossounou are depressing.

Xabi Alonso looked tired. The Bayer Leverkusen coach will not have had much sleep after the 0-1 semi-final first leg of the Europa League at AS Roma.

And more than the defeat, which left all chances for the second leg against his old teacher José Mourinho next Thursday, the injuries to two professionals weighed on the Spaniard’s mind. “This is bad news,” Alonso said in a low voice on Friday morning.

Metatarsal fracture found in Andrich

He was thinking above all of key player Robert Andrich, about whom Alonso’s fears came true on Friday evening: the midfielder suffered a fracture in his left metatarsal. The season is over for him. Andrich wasn’t even able to leave the stadium on foot. He was driven out of the arena on a golf cart at 11:38 p.m., when most of his colleagues were already on the bus. And while the team enjoyed a rest day in Rome on Friday, the 28-year-old boarded the plane home on crutches for a thorough check-up.

The whole thing was “very painful,” said Andrich, who said he “assumed the best for now,” but actually knew what to expect: “Unfortunately, I heard a bad noise, which scared me a bit.” The examinations confirmed a muscle injury in the right thigh of defender Odilon Kossounou. He, too, will hardly be able to play in the last five games at most. Only Jeremie Frimpong, who was hit twice, is looking good. He stayed in Rome on Friday.


The hope for the third European Cup final in the club’s history after 1988 and 2002 lives on. And Bayer relies on the euphoria that has developed in the environment in recent weeks. Nevertheless, the statement by captain Lukas Hradecky initially caused astonishment, who, when asked about the impressive atmosphere in the Stadio Olimpico, explained: “To be honest, I think it’s sometimes louder in the BayArena. It was nice here, a great experience. But I have our fans heard it today too. And it’s going to be another big cauldron in the BayArena.”

What Hradecky meant: The goosebumps atmosphere in Rome spread especially before kick-off. With loud singing of the club songs, an impressive choreography through the whole arena and Bengalos. During the game it wasn’t that loud away from the goal of Rome’s home-grown child Edoardo Bove (63rd). In-game fan chants are less common in Italy. At least that will be more in Leverkusen. “It was great there in the last few games,” said Hradecky: “We beat Bayern, we beat Leipzig. And we also felt that we could beat this team at home.”

Even a win in the first leg would have been possible if Bayer had used his quick chances – and only one until the 90th minute – through Andrich after 43 seconds and Florian Wirtz after five minutes. “I think I should have chosen the other corner,” said Wirtz disappointed: “Then he would probably have gone in.” The scene seemed to be hanging over the national player, and after being substituted early on, he was barely able to score in the international match against Belgium under the eyes of national coach Hansi Flick in the stands.

Leverkusen optimism

A Wirtz in the form of the last few weeks would also be an important pound in the second leg. But even so, the Leverkusen optimism spread. Former world and European champion Xabi Alonso even saw something of a psychological advantage. “We have to win the game,” he said. “Sometimes it’s better when you know what to do and there’s no speculation. Rome feel they are favorites now but anything can happen in football.” But Alonso is also clear: “If we want to reach the final, we need a special night.”

But on the other side is still Mourinho. The Portuguese star coach, who also coached Alonso at Real Madrid from 2010 to 2013 and had a lasting influence on him, had set his team up again excellently on Thursday and played the well-known games on the sidelines. And Mourinho knows how to win European cups. He has already managed it five times with four clubs.

Source: Stern

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