Yesterday win was balm on our wounds, just like the other two Friday matches this season (victories against Augsburg and Freiburg, also both away).
Coach Robin Dutt had to leave Schürrle out due to a flu. Sidney Sam therefore moved left and Castro played on his right wing making place for Reinartz in defensive midfield.
While in the first half, highlights for both teams were hard to spot: only Ballack’s distance shots and the lack of order in our defense brought some action in the initial minutes, it was in the second half when the game picked up in speed and quality.
Bender’s attempt from 30 metres woke up the Werkself right after the break. A few minutes later Ballack received a ball by Sam, moved inside towards the middle of the area and shot directly at Trapp, who let the ball drop into his own net to establish our 0-1 lead (54 min.).
Kaiserslautern consequently had to open up and answered by producing some danger in the proximity of Leno’s goal but the young goalkeeper was never in need of putting on an epic display like in previous weeks.
A well played counter-attack through Bender and Sam set up the final score (70 min.). Both ex-Kaiserlautern players: Ballack and Sam had decided the match in favour of the Werkself of 1904.
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I must say that Dutt´s latest decisions are pleasing me:
- Reinartz career as centre-back could be finally over, only position where he can work out is as defensive midfielder. Stefan had good numbers yesterday, considering the tough time he had against Valencia: Distance covered 11Km, 65 touches on ball (most for Leverkusen player) and 44 successful passes (second best of the Bayer team)
- Ballack is slipping more and more into the leader role, like Rolfes never did. Simon has been in poor form lately and preferred this week again to talk to the press about how he was not comfortable with the coach´s methods than focusing on getting back into the team. Despite that Ballack scored a goal yesterday, he had a lot of ball losses (18) and his pressure on the ball leading man of the opponent continues to have room for improvement.
- Manuel Friedrich is not only the clown of the team, he has made himself with a place next to Toprak. Probably the best option we have at the moment in the squad, although I’m more fan of right-back Schwaab in that position.
- Robin Dutt was quoted in a Kicker Interview with a smile to the question if new signings would come in the winter-break. Let’s hope for the best!
The Werkself however continues to suffer from a general lack of confidence which you could appreciate very well in the first half. Players are careful to not commit a mistake: often instead on taking on a rival and out-dribbling him, the easy pass back is the resource used. Once the team goes ahead, the short pass game reaches it’s best momentum: looking for the gap in the rival’s defense with a quick transition from defense into attack. I´m pretty sure that a goal by Kaiserslautern yesterday would have made us show nerves again. We need to build up some confidence, the upcoming Bundesliga match plan is good for that, but unfortunately Chelsea is in the way on Wednesday.
62 min. Shechter for Kirch
76 min. Sukuta-Pasu for Sahan
76 min. Nemec for Petsos
77 min. Rolfes for Reinartz
88 min. Derdiyok for Kießling
90 min. Oczipka for Castro
Yellow Cards: Dick (Kaiserslautern); Castro (Leverkusen)
0:1 Ballack (54 min.)
0:2 Sam (70 min.)
Statistics Kaiserslautern vs Leverkusen
Posession: 46 % vs 54 %
Shots: 14 vs 15
Fouls: 14 vs 17
Corners: 8 vs 2
Offsides: 7 vs 0
Distance covered (km): 120 vs 124
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