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Bayer Leverkusen

Seven Things We Learned from Bayer 04 — Dortmund

A turgid first half turned into a blistering second half, including a six minute period where Grosskreutz scored twice and Goetze scored a third for the league leaders. A late goal by Stefan Kiessling could not even cosmetically cover up an abject performance from the home side.

Robert Lewandowski

  • If you want to beat the team with the stingiest defense on the counter, you can’t sit back and allow the team with the most proficient attack to come at you all day. Bayer came out and played like Turkmenistan taking on Brazil at the World Cup. They tried to play everyone behind the ball and hit on the counter, but they are too talented for such a small-minded tactic and they were burned by sheer ignorance of it. When they finally started to play after the Mourinho-esque three subs by Jupp Heynckes, they began to bother Dortmund. Had they done so from the beginning, they may have avoided the embarrassment.
  • There is only one thing to like about Nuri Sahin’s play: EVERYTHING. After two or three missed passes at one point in the first half, I thought he has was having a bad match. The fact that this went through my head after two or three missed passes speaks volume to the way he controls the midfield. Between his positioning sense and his positional play, he has to be the best midfielder in the Bundesliga.
  • Antonia da Silva’s substitution for Sven Bender was the greatest substitution ever made! Well it was due to an injury, but there may be something to it. da Silva set back and protected the backline, making his presence felt early and often. This allowed the rest of the midfield to move up in attack. During the first 15 minutes of the second half, where Dortmund scored their goals, Grosskreutz was playing as a forward and Sahin played so much higher on the pitch he was effectively a #10. For a searing stretch, Dortmund were playing 4-1-5.
  • Manuel Freidrich has had better days. It would be hard to say he’s had many that were worse. On the first goal, he allowed the ball to get by him despite using his arms to control it. He lost Grosskruetz on the second off a flick-on by Lewandowski, as well. And as the elder statesman of that backline, he allowed their shape to break way too easily once they conceded the first.
  • Shinji? Barrios? Zidane? Who are they? Meet Dortmund’s best forward: Robert Lewandowski. This was only his second start this year and he did so as a lone forward, the mythic English #9, battering the ball and waiting for every cross. And he was the MOM. His movement was pristine. Go back and watch the final goal and see where he is to receive the ball. If Groetze hadn’t nutmegged Adler, Lewandowski would have every right to have punched him in the sack. He set up the second with an amazing flick on. And his long distance bombs in the first half, not only rattled Adler, but pulled Bayer out of a deep line, allowing them to take advantage of his efforts in the second half.
  • Now that Edin Dzeko is in England, can we finally start talking about Kiessling being the best linking forward in the league. He might have been before Dzeko left. Not only did he score, but was the one bright spot during an woeful Leverkusen performance.
  • Dortmund is going to win the title. And deservedly so.
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  1. Double Pivot

    January 17, 2011 at 2:39 pm

    Realize that I was being a bit cheeky about Lewandowski, but there is boat loads of potential. I asked Uli if he thought the team might get dismantled, and he did seem to think that Barrios could potentially leave for Italy. I think that maybe Dortmund would be willing to allow that to happen if Lewandowski continues to progress like this.

  2. Diriye

    January 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    Lewandowski as starter?

    I think so. He has a better work rate than Barrios. He is also better in the air setting up others. He should be better finisher before the season is over. Dortmund should think about selling Barrios after the season before he loses his starting spot to Lewandowski which is why I think may be the only reason that keeps him in Dortmund’s starting eleven.

    Dortmund also misses Kagawa’s clever runs behind the striker and without him they looked toothless. Remember had Leverkusen had the 6 minute eclipse this could have been a tough game.

  3. vermaelen5

    January 16, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I felt Bayer did a decent job in the first half at keeping Sahin somewhat quiet. It seemed to me like he was forced to receive the ball deep in his own half. In the second half, though, the addition of da Silva worked wonders to turn that around.

    Also, I’ve felt our flicked on passes on breaks this year have been a big part of our offensive attack. Headers, kicks, chests- just about everything has been working on the counter. Lewandowski’s header on during the game was lovely.

  4. David H

    January 16, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Hendry — I don’t see how Löw will be able to keep choosing Mertesacker over Hummels by 2012. Per is sooooo slow, and his club form isn’t doing him any favors. Then again, Podolski always plays!

    • Hendry Wijaya

      January 16, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      David – “Then again, Podolski always plays!” You answer your own question dude 😉

  5. Hendry Wijaya

    January 15, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Eskender – Germany NT backbone in late 90 consisted quite a lot of Dortmund players. Kohler, Reuter, Moller, Sammer, Heinrich, while Bayern players mostly occupy back-up to first team (Kahn, Babbel, Basler, Scholl) with only Helmer and Ziege being part of starting eleven. Okay, it’s been quite a long time ago, so I could be wrong in this matter of course.

    However, I think amongst Dortmund German NT players atm, only Schmelzer realistically could slot in starting XI. Not gonna take everything from Grosskreutz performance yesterday, but amidst one good performance, he certainly had a very strong competition in attacking midfield department. And, I think its fair to say that he rather lacks in talent to compete with the likes of Muller, Ozil, Podolski, Goetze, Marin, Schuerrle, Holtby. And, frankly I think even Reus, Sam, Gebhart and Gundogan actually better than him. His only advantages is he play for Dortmund right now, while Reus, Gebhart and Gundogan lacks of spotlight due to less successful club.

    However, I really want to see Hummels as Germany first choice in CB, but I’m afraid Loew favouritism means that we will see Mertesacker (sigh…) and Badstuber duo in that position for coming years, while Hummels warming the bench. This is completely stupid IMO, having two slow CB while Hummels could boost Germany defence with his ball-playing skill and speed.

    As for Goetze, I believe he will get a place in Loew team, but only as a backup / substitute to Ozil. And don’t forget Bender, I really want him badly in NT, he is a real typical German defensive midfielder, while Schweinsteiger, Khedira and especially Kroos is more a central midfielder with offensive tendency. I think Bender closest rival is Traesch and Rolfes atm.

  6. Double Pivot

    January 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

    David. I caught the sarcasm. I was more worried that after a year off, others would see my comment and then your and possibly think I was making some bold claim. No worries 🙂

    And Hendry, thanks for pointing out the handball error. ESPN3 wasn’t coming in and I was watching a grainy Romanian feed on SopCast. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sahin and Lewandowski weren’t even on the pitch 😀

  7. Eskender

    January 15, 2011 at 3:23 am

    I think yesterday’s performance from the likes of Groskreutz, Gotze, Kiesseling and Hummels is showing that the German national team is no longer have to filled Bayern Munich players in every department of the pitch.
    As for BvB’s title race they are resuming their journey just from were they stop at the break. It’s like they have a well-organized defense, creative midfielders and an options upfront. With their key players remains in their fitness and match decisive ability they can hope for the title.
    With so many players back in the squad, Bayer 04 is not good enough in yesterday encounter even if they are the better side in first 45. I think Fredrich and Reinartz had their bad performance of the season which lets the league leaders on fire. The most regret I have last night is the lackluster performance from the Switz star Derdiyok. He seems very depressed and unable of pull the trigger just after returning from injury.
    Let’s just hope another Borussia side, M’gladbach come with all the points at Nurenburg. Go G’ladbach.

  8. David H

    January 15, 2011 at 1:10 am

    DP — I wasn’t aiming that at you, personally, just being sarcastic. Hard to explain, other than my wife thinks I’m funny, but she’s probably the only one. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

    In fact, shows you how much I pay attention. I didn’t realize it was you writing up this game. The 7 Things format did make me think something was different, but I wasn’t sure what, exactly.

    Hendry — I think you’re right, but we might as well blame Friedrich for it, he screwed up so much tonight. For the league’s sake, I hope this isn’t the beginning of another Leverkusen slide out of the European places. I really don’t want Bayern to finish 2rd but, even though I’m not a BVB fan, I’m really looking forward to Champions League nights there again.

    Watching games on TV from the Westfalen back in the ’90s was about as good as it gets. Screw Old Trafford, Dortmund’s the place to be for the big games.

    But of course, as we all know, the really important part of the weekend is Sunday’s Kaiserslautern v. Köln. We need a good start to the 2nd half, so we can rack up those points & avoid a relegation fight the last few weeks.

  9. Hendry Wijaya

    January 14, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Wasn’t it Daniel Schwaab who got the handball prior to first goal? But still, Friedrich failure to head the ball from Piszcek throw-in had a lot to do with first goal.

  10. Double Pivot

    January 14, 2011 at 11:20 pm

    My remark wasn’t meant to be flippant. It was in response to this game being the make or break for Dortmund, with Leverkusen being the most likely to catch them, as has been making the rounds. That’s all. Still a long way to go though

    I was watching the first half and the way BL set up to contain and it was obvious that one goal would open the floodgate, to a rather pathetic prognosticator such as myself. I wouldn’t have guessed 2 a minute 🙂

  11. David H

    January 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Oh, so you’re so sure BVB’s gonna win the league now, are you?

    Me, too. And pretty much everyone else. Still, there’s always Wolfsburg from 2 years ago.

    It seemed like BVB were just fiddling with Bayer in the first half, then decided to take it up a notch for 15 minutes or so, & then job done.

    But having said that, Leverkusen’s defending was beyond poor. They basically gifted the game to BVB. That slip by Friedrich that allowed Großkreutz to get by him was totally unnecessary. Why stick a leg out there when you can stay on your feet & cover. At my local level, too many defenders think they have to try to take the ball off every attacker, and end up allowing their man to waltz right by. Pretty standard stuff for us rank amateurs. But for a pro to do that, a professional defender, is inexcusable.

    The handball mistake seemed more of the “it can happen to anyone” variety, but Leverkusen just fell apart after that. Gotta wonder if a healthy Ballack might’ve been able to do anything about it.

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