The weekend prepared me for this fixture. The Leipzig-Freiburg, Dortmund-Schalke, and Union-Bayern matches hyped me up for the last tie for the match week. I had already decided that I would be rooting for Bayer before the Bundesliga resumed and now it was finally time for me to support the club I had chosen. The match kicked off at 2:30AM on a Tuesday (Singapore Time), and I feared that I would doze off half-way during the game. Thankfully, Bayer truly know how to entertain. Their encounter with Werder Bremen demonstrated how they are an energetic attacking team that look menacing upfront.
In the first-ever match held behind closed doors at the Weser-Stadion, Bayer attacked from the get-go. Bremen’s defence couldn’t handle the fast-paced counter-attacking football that Bayer produced. In many ways, their displays reminded me a bit of how Premier League teams play. Leverkusen were in fine form before the suspension of the league and had amassed a commendable 19 points from 8 games after Christmas. This match highlighted how they were determined to sustain their exceptional run.
The hype is real with Kai Havertz
Operating as a centre forward in this fixture, Havertz posed a constant threat throughout the game. Whether it was dribbling past defenders or dropping back to feed the ball to his teammates, he demonstrated why he was highly sought after.
Havertz always looked like scoring, and he did so in the 28th minute when he opened the floodgates with a looping header that was difficult for the Bremen goalkeeper, Jiří Pavlenka, to keep out. Havertz suffered an impact injury while heading in the goal, and that just demonstrated how much the promising German youngster wants to win for his team. He had scored his 7th goal of the season and his team’s 1000th away league goal.
However, in the span of a minute, Werder Bremen somehow equalized after the restart. After gaining a corner kick, Gebre Selassie flicked in the goal from Bittencourt’s cross in the 30th minute. Prior to this fixture, Bayer had only ever conceded twice from corners during this campaign. A lack of match sharpness could perhaps explain the questionable defending that led to Selassie finding space to convert his chance.
The quickfire response by Bremen could have put a massive dent on Bayer’s resolve, but it did quite the opposite, Bayer kicked off with every intention of restoring their lead and did so in the 33rd minute. In those 5 minutes, 3 goals had been scored in this fixture, and I can tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed the first half-hour of this match. Once again, it was captain Kai Havertz who headed in a cross from a Kerem Demirbay free-kick.
Bayer are good, really good
It wasn’t just Havert’s brilliance that shone through that match. Other Bayer players put in fine performances as well. Moussa Diaby was one stand out player for me, the pacey french winger showed a lot of grit and determination and created space to provide two assists.
While Diaby occupied the left wing, it was a real spectacle to behold Florian Wirtz play in the right wing. Making his debut for the club, he surpasses Harvertz and now holds the record for being the youngest ever player to feature for Leverkusen in the Bundesliga at 17 years and 15 days. Incidentally, Havertz made his debut 4 years ago against Bremen as well. It was a real treat to see him play and if his performances this fixture are anything to go by, Wirtz is one to watch for the future.
Kerem Demirbay also produced a quality performance that night. Besides assisting Havertz in the first half, he also scored his first-ever goal for the club since joining from Hoffenheim in 2019. The no. 10 gracefully chipped the keeper to round up the 4-1 thrashing of Bremen, who find themselves stuck in the relegation zone.
In all honesty, though, Bayer’s fine performances were also because Werder Bremen were absolutely awful that match. The Bremen defending was virtually non-existent, and this was especially evident with Demirbay’s goal where the Bremen players seemed to have lost the will to play. Bayer ensured they killed off the game and despite letting in Selassie’s goal, their defence effectively dealt with Bremen’s offence for the rest of the game.
Onto the next game
Supporting Bayer was indeed a unique experience, and the team has grown on me. Their thrashing of Werder Bremen demonstrated their prowess, but in all honesty, Supporting Bayer was indeed a unique experience, and the team has grown on me. Their thrashing of Werder Bremen demonstrated their prowess, but in all honesty, there was a serious gulf in quality between the clubs and Werder paled in comparison. Leverkusen’s next game against Borussia Mönchengladbach would be a better test to show their quality. Gladbach find themselves third in the table after winning their first match against Eintracht Frankfurt in a comfortable fashion. Knowing the quality of players that both clubs possess, it is a tantalizing contest that I’m looking forward to this weekend.