Winning streak broken: But Bayer Leverkusen is keeping VfL Wolfsburg at bay despite a large rotation in the race for a place in the European Cup.
The team coached by Xabi Alonso got the next point in the duel between the works clubs when it was 0-0 and even deserved more. But three days after the quarter-final first leg of the Europa League against Union Saint-Gilloise, there was a bit of a lack of strength in the end.
“It wasn’t a highlight game. But we are in the middle of a very intense time at the moment,” said Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky on “DAZN”: “The chances were there, of course I would have liked to win. But Koen Casteels held up well, it’s a good result.”
Even if the winning streak of five Bundesliga threes in a row is now over, Leverkusen has consolidated sixth place in the table with the eleventh competitive game in a row without bankruptcy, Alonso and Co. are six points behind fifth place.
Bayer have climbed eleven places under the Spaniard since matchday eight. Wolfsburg is four points behind Leverkusen and is ninth.
“It won’t be easy. They have a lot of strength and run hard,” Alonso said before the game, but his team held up well despite five changes compared to the Saint-Gilloise game (1-1). Among other things, young star Florian Wirtz was only on the bench until the 62nd minute, but Bayer still tried to find a way forward in front of 20,137 spectators.
Real opportunities remain scarce
But real chances were scarce at first because Wolfsburg were well organized defensively – until Sardar Azmoun hit the crossbar (27th). Nadiem Amiri also tried from distance (41′), Moussa Diaby (54′) missed from close range.
The hosts didn’t hide either, but the efforts of the wolves lacked a bit of pace and probably also Maximilian Arnold’s orderly build-up of the game – the regular captain was absent due to illness. Patrick Wimmer (72nd) lacked the necessary coolness against Bayer keeper Lukas Hradecky. On the other side, substitute Amine Adli (88th) almost struck late.
Overall, Leverkusen had a bit more of the game, but due to the large rotation, the dress rehearsal for the Europa League second leg was only partially successful. On Thursday, however, Alonso will certainly bring his stars like Wirtz or Adli back from the start against Saint-Gilloise.