What a victory!! After being 2-0 down, Leverkusen makes a comeback led by the outstanding captain Simon Rolfes.
Jupp Heynckes decided to surprise McClaren by playing with two strikers and a 4-2-2-2 formation. Already in the 3rd minute Derdiyok could have scored for the Werkself and proven that the coach tactic was right but the Swiss only hit the cross-bar after a centre by Michal Kadlec. A few minutes later we would pay for our offensive orientation (6-7 players in the opponent’s half when in possession of the ball + slow transition to defensive duties after ball losses). Diego’s long pass to Grafite, a slow Finn, a clumsy Adler gave way to the 1st goal (9 min.) of the Volkswagen team scored by the Brazilian midfielder who initiated the attack. Wolfsburg was clearly the better team from this point on. Adler saved the Werkself in several occasions from worse as our defense failed to undermine Dzeko and Grafite. The second half began just like the first ended, Wolfsburg continued to be the dominant team. An hour into the match, Heynckes decided to react to the poor performance and switched the formation back to one striker. Helmes left the pitch for Jørgensen after playing probably his worse match this season and Bender came in for Barnetta, who in my eyes continues to under-perform despite his enormous running.
This adjustment did not bear fruits immediately, as we received a second goal a few minutes later. Schwaab should be held responsible in this situation as he failed to defend his side and let Dzeko enter the area with relative comfort to serve Grafite the 2:0 lead (68 min.).
The coach made his last substitution and brought in captain Rolfes for Reinartz. This substitution changed everything! Just 3 minutes later (72 min.), Rolfes scored the first Leverkusen goal of the evening after goalkeeper Hitz failed to intercept a free-kick of Arturo Vidal. Shortly after, Hasebe committed an unnecessary handball inside the area (Rolfes was involved!). Vidal scored the following penalty (75 min.) with a bit of luck on his side. In 7 minutes from 2:0 to 2:2, you would think that this would be enough!
No! In the 82nd minute Rolfes, the man of the match, scored the winning goal after a corner. Wolfsburg did not answer to this and Leverkusen brought 3 points back home.
The team showed again a lot of morale despite being 2-0 down. It’s not the first time this season! All three goals of Leverkusen were scored after an set piece. We have improved this aspect over the last weeks. At the beginning of the season our corners and free-kicks were innocent, this has now changed. Rolfes showed also how important he is for this team, our organisation improved when he came in.
I hope Heynckes will continue to stick to the 4-1-2-2-1 formation against strikers that outpace Hyypiä and M.Friedrich. I have no doubt that a further centre-back will be bought in the winter transfer window. This will allow us to play more “open”. At the moment it’s near suicide, we will not always score 3 goals or make such a comeback. But that’s my opinion, I am not fan of Werder Bremen kind of football and believe that overall it’s important to keep the zero as this will give you more points in the table. I understand that there are other opinions on this 😉
79 min. Cicero for Hasebe
85 min. Mandzukic for Kahlenberg
86 min. Dejagah for Josué
62 min. Jörgensen for Helmes
62 min. L. Bender for Barnetta
69 min. Rolfes for Reinartz
Yellow cards: Dejagah(Wolfsburg); Barnetta,Reinartz,M.Friedrich,Kadlec and Sam (all Leverkusen)
1:0 Diego (9 min.)
2:0 Grafite (68 min.)
2:1 Rolfes (72 min.)
2:2 Vidal (75 min.)
2:3 Rolfes (82 min.)
Statistics (Wolfsburg vs Leverkusen)
Posession: 32 % vs 68 %
Shots: 9 vs 16
Fouls: 14 vs 15
Corners: 5 vs 7
Offsides: 7 vs 1
Passes in own half/opponent’s half: 142/201 vs 196/356
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So much to talk about: formation, substitutions, best/worse player, Simon Rolfes….
Next game: Thursday, Aris Thessaloniki vs Bayer 04 🙂