The winning streak has ended: Bayer Leverkusen had a mixed dress rehearsal for the upcoming Europa League quarter-finals with a 0-0 win at VfL Wolfsburg.
Xabi Alonso bore the end of his Bundesliga winning streak with composure. The gentleman coach from Bayer Leverkusen only blew through once in disappointment, then he high-fived his players and chatted relaxedly with his colleague Niko Kovac. His team was better at VfL Wolfsburg and had a clearer chance – but couldn’t get past 0-0. Three days after the quarter-final first leg of the Europa League against Union Saint-Gilloise, there was a bit of a lack of strength at the end.
“It wasn’t a highlight game. But we are in the middle of a very intense time at the moment,” said Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky on DAZN: “The chances were there, of course I would have liked to win. But Koen Casteels held up well, it is a good result.”
Even if the winning streak of five Bundesliga threes in a row is now over, Leverkusen has consolidated sixth place in the table with the eleventh competitive game in a row without bankruptcy, Alonso and Co. are six points behind fifth place. Bayer have climbed eleven places under the Spaniard since matchday eight. Wolfsburg is four points behind Leverkusen and is ninth.
“It won’t be easy. They have a lot of strength and run hard,” Alonso said before the game, but his team held up well despite five changes compared to the Saint-Gilloise game (1-1). Among other things, young star Florian Wirtz was only on the bench until the 62nd minute, but Bayer still tried to find a way forward in front of 20,137 spectators.
But real chances were scarce at first because Wolfsburg were well organized defensively – until Sardar Azmoun hit the crossbar (27th). Nadiem Amiri also tried from distance (41′), Moussa Diaby (54′) missed from close range.
The hosts didn’t hide either, but the efforts of the wolves lacked a bit of pace and probably also Maximilian Arnold’s orderly build-up of the game – the regular captain was absent due to illness. Patrick Wimmer (72nd) lacked the necessary coolness against Bayer keeper Lukas Hradecky. On the other side, substitute Amine Adli (88th) almost struck late.
Overall, Leverkusen had a bit more of the game, but due to the large rotation, the dress rehearsal for the Europa League second leg was only partially successful. On Thursday, however, Alonso will certainly bring his stars like Wirtz or Adli back from the start against Saint-Gilloise.
VfL Wolfsburg – Bayer Leverkusen: The voices
Niko Kovac (VfL Wolfsburg coach): “It was a tight game with good defences. All in all we’re happy with the point because we were able to hold our own against a really good opponent.”
Xabi Alonso (Bayer Leverkusen manager): “The draw is fair. We had a few chances but also conceded two counterattacks. If you can’t win, you can’t lose.”
VfL Wolfsburg – Bayer Leverkusen: The data for the game
Wolfsburg: Casteels – Bornauw, Guilavogui, van de Ven – Kaminski, Nmecha, Svanberg, Paulo Otavio (54th Paredes, 80th Lacroix) – Gerhardt (80th Baku), Wind, Marmoush (70th Wimmer). – Coach: Kovac