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A round-up of the latest soccer news

A round-up of the latest soccer news
A round-up of the latest soccer news

“It was rarely this extreme”: Bayer’s 2:0 against West Ham as a game of extremes

The first leg between Bayer 04 and West Ham United in the quarter-finals of the Europa League was a match of extremes. On the one hand, because the Hammers were extremely defensive. On the other, because the Werkself produced superlatives in possession.

The tactical approach West Ham United adopted in Leverkusen was legitimate, but anything but respectable. With a five-man defence and positioned extremely deep, the English side blocked Bayer 04’s space. At times, David Moyes’ side played so defensively that before the break, Leverkusen defender Jonathan Tah was the hosts’ last line of defence close to the opposition’s penalty area (!).

Pure concrete, which made it difficult to play an attractive game. “We haven’t had teams like that so often, where they’re so deep at the back. They were very deep. You have to be patient and keep running at them. Sometimes it’s a bit tough and you sometimes get a bit desperate,” explained Jonas Hofmann, joker and match-winner.

But Bayer has often successfully overcome such situations. The international points to the knowledge of his own strength, “the experience we’ve gained time and again of scoring goals from behind. We are using these moments to our advantage.”

The calmness and consistency with which Bayer 04 are implementing their own approach to combination football is impressive and is also reflected in the data on the one-sided 90 minutes against the Premier League’s seventh-placed team. These again produced some remarkable figures and new records. For those interested in the exciting opportunities of online gaming, check out Wanted Win no deposit bonus.

78 ball contacts in the opponent’s penalty area

Leverkusen fired 33 shots on goal against West Ham – a feat previously achieved by only one team this season: Leverkusen themselves in their 3-2 defeat of Qarabag Agdam in the round of 16. Otherwise, no other Europa League participant has cracked the mark of 30 shots on goal.

West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski had eleven shots on goal – no other team has had so many shots on target this Europa League season.

Leverkusen had 78 touches of the ball in the opposition penalty area against West Ham, the most since they started the 2016/17 Europa League season.

How do Leverkusen actually do that?

Bayer 04 Leverkusen also played West Ham United to the wall and are on the verge of the first championship in the club’s history. kicker reporter Stephan von Nocks explains how it was all possible. Also: Almuth Schult is back in Germany – and Alexander Nübel extends his contract in Munich but stays in Stuttgart.

Leverkusen only conceded one goal to their opponents – something no other team has managed to do this season. The previous record was just three shots on goal conceded by the opposition. Among others, Leverkusen achieved this on matchday 3 of the group stage with a 5:1 win against Qarabag Agdam.

For the fifth time this season, Leverkusen had a passing percentage of over 90 per cent in this Europa League season (this time 90.7%) – otherwise only AC Milan (3) and Brighton & Hove Albion (2) had a passing percentage of at least 90 per cent more than once.

Leverkusen had 73 per cent possession – a figure only surpassed by Brighton & Hove Albion on matchday 1 (75 per cent) and Liverpool FC in the round of 16 second leg against Sparta Prague (77 per cent). Granit Xhaka was the ball magnet with 157 ball contacts – this was only topped by Brighton’s Lewis Dunk on matchday 3 (167).

The first leg result: good, but dangerous

Figures that speak a clear language, documenting Bayer’s brutal superiority. But they should not lead to the false conclusion that the second leg in London will be a similarly one-sided affair, as midfield strategist Xhaka warns.

“We have to try and score a goal in London. If we score three goals in total, we can do it,” the former Arsenal player warned, “I’m speaking from experience. I played there against West Ham for seven years. I know how difficult it is there. They have 60,000, 70,000 spectators behind them – it will be a different team on Thursday. They will come, they will be pushed by their own fans.”

And so Xhaka emphasises once again that despite the one-sided first leg, the game is not over yet. “2-0 is a good result, but not perfect. It’s also a very dangerous result, so we have to stay focussed.” Xhaka and Co. demonstrated what that can lead to in the first leg.

Petersen wants to retain Bayern’s unique selling point

Nils Petersen doesn’t think FC Bayern will get rid of Bayer Leverkusen any time soon. The new kicker columnist explains why it should be called “Werkszwölf” – and why he’s keeping his fingers crossed for Harry Kane.

A title-less season at Bayern? Nils Petersen (left) has experienced what Harry Kane is facing this year.imago images (2)

Apart from the second division championship with Freiburg in 2015/16, Nils Petersen ended his professional career last summer without a title – and as an ex-employee of FC Bayern, you have to achieve that first. The now 35-year-old only spent the 2011/12 season with the German record champions, a year in which Munich failed to even win the DFL Super Cup. Will that happen again this season?

“Harry Kane will hopefully still lift the Champions League trophy – and won’t dispute my unique selling point,” Petersen writes in his new kicker column (Monday edition). “It would be the first title-less season since my only year at Bayern in 2011/12.”

Back then, “Jupp Heynckes & Co. had probably cleaned out the squad just right”; one year later, when Petersen had already left, Bayern won the treble. “Maybe the current botched season is a good omen: maybe we can do it again?” Petersen ponders. “Hope dies last. At Bayern, however, it’s too often a case of ‘hoping’ at the top level recently. If only half the team goes to the limit, they win against 13 league rivals.”

“Thanks to Xabi Alonso’s presence, you’d have to write about the Werkszwölf by now”

But they won’t become champions that way, especially not when a rival plays like Bayer 04 Leverkusen this season. Petersen does not believe that FCB will get rid of the Werkself so quickly. “Bayern’s biggest problem for the next league season is once again: Xabi Alonso! On the one hand, they can’t get him, but on the other, and more dangerously, he’s turning the former runners-up Kusen into permanent title contenders. Thanks to his presence, we should now be talking about the Werkszwölf.” Because Xabi Alonso is staying and “still sees potential for improvement”, “Bayern have to worry again – and hope”, predicts Petersen.


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