As the dust settles on the 2015/16 Bundesliga season, supporters' focus now turns to the transfer market. So who will Roger Schmidt look to move on over the summer as he builds his squad for next season?
Two ridiculous penalty decisions condemned Bayer 04 Leverkusen to a 3-0 defeat at the Allianz Arena, but the scoreline nowhere near reflects the game.
On a day when the Bundesliga served up twenty six goals in the five afternoon matches, Bayer Leverkusen suffered stoppage time heartbreak as second placed Wolfsburg left the BayArena with victory in a nine goal extravaganza which saw two players score hattricks. Continue reading Nine Goal Thriller at BayArena
Stefan Kießling made a welcome return to the scoresheet as he nets a late winner at TSG Hoffenheim on matchday sixteen.
Schalke 04 claimed their two hundredth away win in Bundesliga with an impressive 2-1 triumph in the North Rhine derby at Leverkusen. Goals from Leon Goretzka and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar sandwiched an own goal equaliser to close the gap from second to fourth to just three points.
Schalke seemed to settle into the match better than their hosts, although it was Leverkusen who had the first chance when Stefan Kießling turned and shot inside the area, but it was a comfortbale save for Ralf Fahrmann in the Schalke goal. This came moments after Gonzalo Castro had the ball in the visitors’ net after being played through by Heung-Min Son. However, Castro was correctly flagged for offside. Son was looking very lively in the opening stages, and he himself was denied by another Fahrmann save shortly after.
Sebastian Boenisch also had a decent opportunity, but missed the target. A cross from the right by Roberto Hilbert found its way to the far post, where Boenisch connected but dragged his effort back across goal and wide of the post.
However, on 28 minutes the breakthrough came, and it was down to an individual error from Lars Bender. The 24 year old tried to play a backwards pass but was dispossessed by U21 international Leon Goretzka. He raced toward goal, skipping past the challenge of Phillipp Wollscheid to get into a one-on-one with Bernd Leno. Goretzka didn’t panic, instead coolly chipping the ball over the goalkeeper to give Schalke the lead and silence the BayArena.
The goal seemed to completely derail Leverkusen, who had been the better side for much of the opening half an hour, but they couldn’t get their game together for the rest of the half. Only a 35 yard effort from Kevin Prince Boateng for Schalke registered as a goalbound effort before the half time whistle.
The break seemed to allow both sides to regroup, and Leverkusen started brightly. Castro’s free kick found Son, who powered a shot goalward, only for it to be deflected just wide. At the other end, Jefferson Farfan – a real handful all game – raced clear only to be brought down on the edge of the box by Boenisch. The full back was booked, and Farfan got up to take the free kick, but his effort was narrowly over. From only twenty yards out, it is always going to be difficult to get the ball over the wall, and then down into the goal.
Boenisch had a thumping effort on goal, but Boateng stood firm and took it in the midriff, while Kießling – who seems badly out of form – wasted a golden opportunity when clean through. He could have shot early, he could have squared the ball to a teammate, but instead he tried to round Fahrmann before shooting. While he managed the first bit of that plan, his touch was woeful and he was dispossessed.
Twenty minutes into the second half, Leverkusen finally found their equaliser. Sebastian Boenisch rose to meet a corner, his header looping over Fahrmann but was brilliantly headed of the line by Felipe Santana. However, from the resulting corner, the ball hit the unwitting Santana and flew into the top corner to restore parity. It was no more than Leverkusen deserved, but it was especially hard on Santana.
Minutes later, and Gonzalo Castro missed a gilt edged chance. Kießling helped a clearance on, and Castro raced through on goal. However, he sliced his shot badly wide to sum up the majortiy of Leverkusen’s ruckrunde so far – frustrating. And to compound that misery, Huntelaar scored the winning goal seconds later. Awful defending from a Farfan freekick allowed the Dutch striker to flick a header past a flat footed Leno into the corner of the net to settle the game. The Leverkusen defending was abysmal though – from a freekick forty or more yards out, their defensive line was inside the six yard box. Absolutely shocking, and not something you’s expect to see from the team currently – though probably not for long – second in the Bundesliga.
One bright note for the home fans was the introduction of seventeen year old Julian Brandt. The former Wolfsburg player came on for the final eight minutes, and looked very good indeed, almost grabbing a debut assist. He showed lovely footwork to skip past Papadopolous and set up Simon Rolfes, but Fahrmann brilliantly tipped over the captain’s fierce drive. In injury time, Omer Toprak was desperately unlucky to see his header hit the frame of the goal. Schalke, though, held on for a huge win, their fourth in a row of the ruckrunde, and take their unbeaten run to six. It also completes the double over Leverkusen, following a 2-0 win at Gelsenkirchen in August.
This result is unlikely to fill the team or fans with confidence ahead of the huge Champions League last 16 tie with Paris St Germain on Tuesday. And it doesn’t get any easier in the league either; next up is a tough trip to sixth placed Wolfsburg on Saturday evening.