Bayer Leverkusen were held to a 1-1 draw at the BayArena by Borussia Dortmund, as they dropped points for only the second time this campaign. Despite Leverkusen controlling the game from the first whistle, an early Julian Ryerson strike suggested that Dortmund were ready to cause an upset on Leverkuaen soil. As the remainder of the half presented nothing more than one-way traffic, Dortmund would hold firm. A disallowed Florian Wirtz goal was as close as the Werkself would come to drawing level as the hosts trailed going into the interval.
Nevertheless, after the break, the rhythm of the game would remain largely the same. With Leverkusen looking to draw level, Dortmund, and more specifically, Mats Hummels, did what they could to deny them the chance. Regardless, as the hosts kept probing, Dortmund’s rearguard would eventually give way. Boniface’s tap-in with just ten minutes left ensured that the hosts remain unbeaten, but it is a point that will offer Bayern Munich the chance to join them at the Bundesliga summit. As for Dortmund, three points would have been required for them to keep their title hopes alive, and it will now be about Champions League qualification for Die Schwarzgelben.
Leverkusen show the flaws
Week after week, game after game, Bayer Leverkusen have continued to display why they are currently considered one of the best teams in the world. However, after a surprising 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund, Die Werkself proved that there are still problems in their game.
Julian Ryerson’s strike in the fourth minute caught Alonso’s side off guard, which has been an issue for the Werkself all season. However, while on other occasions they have been able to paper over their problems with their attacking quality, they ultimately came up against a black and yellow brick wall.
While Leverkusen were able to walk away with a point, if they are to win the Bundesliga this season and push Bayern all the way, then they will need to start cutting out these issues within their game. While a second draw of the season is not the end of the world, they have shown that they are vulnerable.
Dortmund’s defensive approach is working
Despite a poor run of form in the Bundesliga, Dortmund have found a home in the Champions League. Edin Terzić’s side have taken a far more defensive approach for Europe’s cup competition and have therefore been significantly more difficult to break down.
Having already qualified out of Group F with just a sole defeat to PSG, a return to Bundesliga action may have appeared as an unwanted task for Die Schwarzgelben. Regardless, with an unstoppable attacking force in Bayer Leverkusen standing in their way, Terzić elected to transfer his meticulous methods to the domestic stage.
With just two shots compared to Leverkusen’s nine in the first half, as well as only having 33% of the ball, BvB scrambled into halftime with a 1-0 lead. While they would ultimately concede late on, they had their chances to put the game to bed on the counter attack. While it may not be the most attractive style of football, it certainly has made BvB more competitive.
Patrik Schick will feel like a new signing
Having been out injured with a number of problems for over a year, Patrik Schick returned to Bundesliga action against Borussia Dortmund. With Leverkusen struggling to break down the Dortmund rearguard for 80 minutes, the Czech international was introduced to play.
Within a matter of seconds of coming on, the 27-year-old found himself unmarked inside the box. A simple squared ball to Victor Boniface allowed the Nigerian striker to gladly accept the gift that was given to him, as Schick claimed an important assist.
However, it will be the re-introduction of Schick that the Leverkusen faithful will be happy to see. With the commanding presence he brings in the attacking third, Die Werkself will feel as though they have a whole new asset to their game. While it will take time to settle back into the side, Schick will feel like a new signing.
GGFN | Will Shopland