Crisis club Bayer Leverkusen trembled with a 0-0 win against FC Brugge for international hibernation. The Rhinelanders, who were once again unconvincing in terms of football, benefited from FC Porto’s 2-1 win over Atlético Madrid on the last matchday of the Champions League group stage and passed the Spaniards in third place.
In the new year, Bayer 04 can continue playing in the intermediate round of the Europa League. In order to survive there and in the Bundesliga, the table-16. however, increase significantly. Coach Xabi Alonso’s team rarely tapped into their potential in front of 30,210 spectators on Tuesday evening.
After the 0: 2 against RB Leipzig on Saturday, Alonso relied on fresh forces and changed his starting formation six times. Patrik Schick, who has recovered, celebrated his comeback in the storm center. It wasn’t the Czech who had Bayer 04’s first chance, but Jeremie Frimpong. The winger skilfully moved in, but didn’t hit the ball properly after a cross from a promising position (6′).
Leverkusen were visibly trying to control the game and variable attacking game. The Werkself’s offensive attempts mostly came to nothing, however, because the passes were either too inaccurate or they didn’t have the necessary pace when they had possession of the ball. Alonso, under whom Bayer 04 have only won one game in four Bundesliga games, cheered on the sidelines with gestures. The Spaniard kept showing his players what they had to do and used his entire coaching zone to do so. Sometimes it looked as if he would prefer to fight the duels himself.
For a long time, the 40-year-old saw little that was edifying from his team in terms of play. Brugge got into the game better and better and it wasn’t until the 33rd minute before Leverkusen got close to the goal again. After a nice pass from Callum Hudson-Odoi, Moussa Diaby failed to find the goalkeeper Simon Mignolet from a tight angle. At the other end, Bayer captain Lukas Hradecky parried a dangerous low shot from Kamal Sowah (39′).
After an overall weak first round, the fans gave encouragement at the break. “Let’s go Bayer, fight and win,” came the voice from the curve. After the change of sides, the supporters immediately had to endure a moment of shock. Less than a minute into the second half was played when Bruges’ Tajon Buchanan threw the ball into the crossbar of the Leverkusen goal. Shortly thereafter, Schick had the best Bayer chance. However, Mignolet scratched the 26-year-old’s headbutt badly from the angle.
The hosts got a little better and had a short period of pressure. With strong defensive behavior, however, Bruges prevented further big chances. With a decent away game, the Belgians showed again why they surprisingly qualified for the round of 16 of Europe’s most important club competition – in contrast to Leverkusen. Bayer 04 have not won six competitive games in a row.
“We have reached the minimum target. When the games start in February, we’ll be there. We’re happy about that, especially in the current difficult phase,” said Bayer captain Lukas Hradecky.