2 months and 15 days had to pass, to see Leverkusen win a match in the Bundesliga without conceding any goal (November, St.Pauli 1:0). It was an overall convincing display by the Werkself, the victory seemed never to be in risk.
Coach Heynckes introduced one change to the Mönchengladbach match. Ballack replaced Sam in the starting line-up, Renato was shifted to the right and Vidal took his role as playmaker with Rolfes and Ballack guarding his back. M.Friedrich returned from a 1-game suspension but found himself only on the bench. The poor performance against Dortmund and the discussions with the referee (coach is strictly against it) are likely to be the reasons for this decision.
Goal scoring opportunities were rather rare in the first half. The Werkelf attacked mainly through the middle, as Renato Augusto and Gonzalo Castro had little support by the side-backs Schwaab and Kadlec who focused on avoiding dangerous counter-attacks. Leverkusen was very effective in the first half and went 2:0 ahead. Vidal scored the first one for Leverkusen with a great volley from outside of the area (21 min.). Rolfes increased the lead (43 min.) in one of his few moves towards the area.
In comparison to Mönchengladbach and other games this season, we had to suffer little in the second half. Only 2 chances by Hannover are worth to mention in this period: Abdellaoue header over the crossbar (68 min.) and a shot by Schulz (72 min.) brilliantly saved by Adler. As the minutes passed it was easier for the Werkself to find spaces in Hannover’s defense. Renato’s lob (74 min.) and a 1 on 1 situation by Castro (86 min.) could have enlarged the result even further.
Heynckes was very satisfied with the fact that no goal was received. He praised Hyypiä excellent positioning and situation control during the match.
I thought Vidal was outstanding (again!) in the role as 10er. He is ideal for this position, as he can put into play his outstanding defensive and offensive qualities. Hannover found it difficult to initiate their attacks. Arturo chased every ball just like Tevez does at Manchester City. With Ballack and Rolfes we have another line of contention which is difficult to surpass. Offensively the Chilean is not worse than Renato: 9 goals and 8 assists in the Bundesliga are not the numbers of a defensive midfielder.
Ballack was very active in the first half but obviously he still needs some more matches to regain his level. He had a nice shot from outside the area near the end, we should see more of that soon.
I’m the idea that Rolfes and Ballack should rotate their position with Vidal during the game. The same as we do with the wingers, that way we can confuse the opponent.
Interesting will be to see if M.Friedrich returns to the team next Saturday. Reinartz is gaining more confidence as centre-back and Hyypiä is just irreplaceable.
76 min. Derdiyok for Kießling
87 min. Balitsch for Castro
90. + 2 min M. Friedrich for Renato Augusto
57 min. Stoppelkamp for Schmiedebach
70 min. Djakpa for Rausch
78 min. Chahed for Pinto
Yellow cards: none
1:0 Vidal (21 min.)
2:0 Rolfes (42 min.)
Statistics Leverkusen vs Hannover
Posession: 52 % vs 48 %
Shots: 11 vs 9
Fouls: 18 vs 12
Corners: 5 vs 3
Offsides: 5 vs 5
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In the two upcoming away games the Werkself should continue their upward trend. The 1st place is out of reach, Bayern Munich breath should worry us.
Japan won the Asian Cup! Hosogai remained on the bench throughout the match.