For one hour Bayer Leverkusen was the better team against Borussia Dortmund, then the hosts lost the game. Measures taken by Heiko Herrlich also played their part.
1. Leverkusen lacks tactical maturity
Bayer Leverkusen showed the best performance of the season so far in the 2:4 defeat against Borussia Dortmund until the 60th minute. With courageous pressing, a secure pass when winning the ball and the constant occupation of the Dortmund outer defenders, Heiko Herrlich’s team repeatedly provided dangerous moments in front of the BVB goal. The reward: a 2-0 lead at half-time, two big chances to 3-0 after the restart. But as in so many games in this season (Mainz, Rasgrad, Düsseldorf) Leverkusen could not show a consistently compact game over 90 minutes.
After Kai Havertz’s shot on goal in the 57th minute, Bayer remained almost without any relief for half an hour. No pressing through counterattacks, instead: three Dortmund conceded goals. And all three goals were symptomatic of the weaknesses of the Leverkusen team. The first goal was triggered by a slight loss of the ball in the game structure, the second goal was scored after a counterattack. Havertz’s header led to a quick counterattack in which Wendell could not take the substitute Jadon Sancho in the decisive duel. A goal that was due to a lack of defensive balance.
Before the knockout by the Dortmund 3:2 there were 17 ball actions of the Dortmund around and in the Leverkusen penalty area, without a defensive player was able to intervene. Coach Heiko Herrlich could not have a stabilizing effect: All three changes of the Leverkusen team took place after 2:2. Five minutes after his final exchange fell the 2:3 – all measures from the outside evaporated.
2. The size of the squad makes the difference
While Herrlich had to get the disappointing Leon Bailey, Tim Jedvaj and Paulinho off the bench without any positive effect this season, Lucien Favre’s changes decided the game. Mahmoud Dahoud, who replaced Thomas Delaney in the half, not only had more ball action than his predecessor, but also more passes in the opposing half to the teammate. Sancho prepared two goals and with five assists is now the best referee in the league. And then there’s Paco Alcácer. He scored his number two and number three goals with his three and four Bundesliga shots. Favre has played 20 players in the league so far, Ömer Toprak, Mario Götze and Marwin Hitz are even without a game. This allows reaction and regeneration.
The difference in quality continues in the depth of the squad. Marius Wolf, Raphael Guerreiro and Julian Weigl were not deployed by BVB, and Leverkusen have already shown such a lack of quality after the losses of Julian Baumgartlinger and Charles Aránguiz that there is no hope of a rapid improvement in the triple burden of the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Europa League. If only the inconsistency is constant and the key players can’t go ahead for more than 90 minutes in a suitable tactical structure, it won’t be a season that could be expected in an offensive with such great footballers as Havertz, Bailey, Julian Brandt and Kevin Volland.
Tim Jedvaj Honours
- Dinamo Zagreb
- Prva HNL: 2012–13
- Croatian Supercup: 2013
- FIFA World Cup runner-up: 2018
- Croatian Football Hope of the Year: 2014
3. Dortmund’s smart transfers are the key
BVB’s lead in the standings may be a snapshot – they were already in first place in the pre-season phase and then completely lost the thread. But Favre finds qualities in the composition of his squad that are advantageous in three competitions. One of the keys are the clever transfers that the BVB made in the summer, and also looked for risky places where others did not see a win. Alex Witsel came from the Chinese Super League, Paco Alcácer from FC Barcelona.To know more about it check the Pinnacle Bonuses.
The sales of Ousmane Dembélé and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gave them the money they needed to search in this price category. However, the fact that they seem to have made the right decisions can be positively attributed to the players. This team has quality and thus the necessary power: At the Champions League opening in Bruges it was ten minutes before the end 0:0, in the first cup round in Fürth 0:1 – BVB won both games. In Hoffenheim they were 0:1 behind at this point and could still equal the score. And now in Leverkusen, a 2:2 became a 4:2. It was the first away win in Dortmund’s Bundesliga history after a 0:2 half-time deficit.