Bundesliga: Leverkusen’s winning streak is over

Bayer Leverkusen’s winning streak has ended. For coach Xabi Alonso’s team, it was only enough for a 0-0 away game at VfL Wolfsburg on Sunday, Bayer had previously won five times in a row in the Bundesliga. The goalless draw is only of limited use as an encouragement for the quarter-final second leg in the Europa League next Thursday at Union Saint-Gilloise (first leg 1-1). Leverkusen remains sixth in the Bundesliga table, while VfL is still in ninth place, four points behind.

Bayer coach Alonso rotated five positions compared to the European Cup game against Union Saint-Gilloise and initially left internationals Florian Wirtz and Jonathan Tah on the bench. “Today we need something different,” said the 2010 world champion before kick-off.

However, the last best Bundesliga team was noticeably under pressure from the international games. The long balls to the offensive stars around Moussa Diaby, who VfL coach Niko Kovac described as “nimble boys”, rarely came across. There was hardly any sign of the joy of playing in the past few weeks. Adam Hlozek had the best opportunity in the first half hour. The Czech hit the crossbar, but passer Jeremie Frimpong was previously offside (27′).

Wolfsburg didn’t do much better after not having won the previous five home games. Without captain Maximilian Arnold, who was ill, there was a lack of power in midfield in front of 20,137 spectators. The best and only VfL chance before the break came from Yannick Gerhardt, whose header went just over Bayer goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky’s goal (33′).

Both teams came out of the dressing room with much more vigor and there were scoring opportunities compared to the first half. Wolfsburg attacker Omar Marmoush was denied by Hradecky (47′). On the other side, Koen Casteels brilliantly parried a Diaby shot (53′) with his foot.

Bayer coach Alonso brought in offensive star Wirtz after just under an hour. With the substitution of the 19-year-old exceptional talent, Bayer became more dominant and continued to put the strains of the Europa League on. VfL keeper Casteels cleared a flick from Kerem Demirbay for a corner.

However, the short offensive phase of the Alonso team had no effect. Wolfsburg broke free and had the chance to score the winner thanks to substitute Patrick Wimmer. However, the offensive player failed because of the well-reacting Hradecky. On the other side, Amine Adli missed (88′).

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