Sidney Sam scored an impressive double to send Bayer Leverkusen to the summit of the Bundesliga with a 4-1 away win at newly-promoted Augsburg at the SGL Arena.
The hosts took a surprise lead in the fifth minute when Hajime Hosogai drilled the ball home from close range, against the club he is currently on-loan from.
However, Robin Dutt’s side were back in the game a minute later when Sidney Sam latched onto a Stefan Kiessling through ball to bring Leverkusen all square.
In the 23rd minute, the away team was in front when Kiessling managed to control Renato Augusto’s pass before striking the ball past the helpless Simon Jentzsch to give his side a 2-1 lead at the break.
Both sides contested an entertaining second half but Leverkusen was able to put the game beyond doubt in the 73rd minute when Gonzalo Castro found Sam who made no mistake in drilling the ball home.
Substitute Eren Derdiyok completed the scoring in the 80th minute when on the second attempt, he slammed the ball past Jentzsch who had originally made a decent save.
Former Chelsea player and Germany captain Michael Ballack partnered Simon Rolfes in the Leverkusen midfield, raising the prospect that he could appear against his former club. Leverkusen meet the Londoners in Champions League action on Tuesday.
“Augsburg kept us very busy, so it is important to recover quickly from this match,” said Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt. “I am very satisfied with Michael, but I don’t yet know if he will start against Chelsea.”
62 min. Gogia for Werner
62 min. Reinhardt for Sinkala
77 min. Bah for Bellinghausen
60 min. Schürrle for Ballack
68 min. Balitsch for L. Bender
75 min. Derdiyok for Kießling
Yellow Cards: Sinkala (Augsburg); Schwaab,Ballack,Balitsch (Leverkusen)
1:0 Hosogai (5 min.)
1:1 Sam (6 min.)
1:2 Kießling (23 min.)
1:3 Sam (72 min.)
1:4 Derdiyok (79 min.)
Statistics Augsburg vs Leverkusen
Posession: 42 % vs 58 %
Shots: 18 vs 17
Fouls: 14 vs 12
Corners: 4 vs 2
Offsides: 0 vs 1
Distance covered (km): 108 vs 115
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An interesting statistic that I have added is the distance covered by teams. Dutt declared prior to the match, that he would like to see a victory with less physical efforts than in the last three games. The Werkself covered an average of 117,2 km in these three encounters and hit in Stuttgart a high of 123,1 km. Against Augsburg we were close to 110 km, the objective set out by the coach for the eco-mode.
Although the tactical formation hasn’t really changed, we are starting to see a few tweaks that Robin Dutt is implementing:
- Dynamic offensive midfielder line>> All 3 players constantly switch their positions. Superiority is sometimes created by leaving one flank abandoned
- Kiessling pulls defenders out by falling back into midfield
- Wingers especially Sidney Sam abuse of diagonal runs to cause disorganisation in the opponent’s defense
- While Simon Rolfes was very involved offensively in the first games of the season, he now has the order to hold his position and not to get involved in attacking movements. His partner Lars Bender enjoys more freedom, generally it’s very rare that they switch their role in defensive midfield, something which was common last season (“You go up, I stay”).
Overall a deserved victory, but things could have gotten complicated if Augsburg would have been more clever in front of goal.
Against Chelsea we need to put in the sixth gear (>120 km covered) and play with the same concentration as against Dortmund, if we want to have a chance at all.