Bayer Leverkusen held Bayern Munich to a 2-2 in what could prove to be a significant moment in the Bundesliga title race on matchday four. Both sides returned from the international break ready to maintain their 100% record in the league, and with the eyes of German football firmly set on Die Werkself, they did not disappoint. Despite an early Harry Kane goal after a shaky start, Leverkusen would work themselves back into the game with a wonderful free-kick from Grimaldo to see both sides go in level at half-time.
The second half was equally as enthralling as the first with both sides going close to finding the upper hand. Regardless, as the game looked to be getting away from Die Rekordmeister, Leon Goretzka found himself in the right place at the right time to sweep home what looked to be a winner for Bayern. However a late penalty that was converted by Exequiel Palacios earnt Leverkusen a deserved point.
Bayer Leverkusen lay down their title credentials
The signings of Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface has seen Leverkusen’s attack blossom, while new recruit Nathan Tella is still waiting to make his impact known. As well as this, Granit Xhaka’s move from Arsenal has been inspired with the Swiss International helping Alonso’s side become a whole different beast compared to last season.
Nevertheless, while their summer dealings have proved to be exceptional, not many would have believed that Leverkusen could challenge Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title. Being able to push Bayern all the way means consistency week in week out, and Leverkusen have shown that they are ready to do so. Three wins from their opening three matches had left them top of the league, as well as being the Bundesliga’s top scorers.
More importantly, however, after matchday four they would have now implemented doubt into the minds of those at Bayern. An astounding display against Die Rekordmeister saw Leverkusen go behind twice, but claw themselves back into the game. While they will rue missed chances to win the game on a number of occasions, it was a display that would have undoubtedly installed a resounding amount of confidence throughout the squad.
Early warning signs for Thomas Tuchel
It has been a strange six months for Bayern Munich and their adoring support. The dismissal of Julian Nagelsmann – while not all that surprising – could not have come at a worse time with the side ready to challenge on three fronts towards the back end of last season. Disappointing displays in the Champions League and DFB-Pokal left Tuchel with just the Bundesliga to fight for.
While his side would make hard work of completing their task, the Meisterschale would return to Bavaria. However, question marks remained over the former Borussia Dortmund head coach. Implementing his style straight away would have always been a tall order, but expectations were still not met. A summer of transfer sagas would follow, and Bayern’s squad would ultimately end thinner. Tuchel’s comments since have left a rift between himself and the Bayern board; with his future becoming a talking point.
An underwhelming start to the season has continued after being held by a breathtaking Bayer Leverkusen outfit. Prior to the match it had been understood that Leverkusen head coach Xabi Alonso was at the top of Bayern’s list for managers ready to succeed Tuchel, while Hansi Flick’s availability will unsurprisingly link the former Germany head coach to the club. However, since Tuchel’s appointment Bayern have failed to convince and this game has only underlined that there are issues at the club. Being bettered by Die Werkself in many aspects of the game, Bayern were fortunate to walk out with a point. It would be hard to imagine that those at the Säbener Straße will put up with mediocrity for much longer.
Victor Boniface could be the difference maker
When Xabi Alonso was appointed as the Bayer Leverkusen head coach last October, Die Werkself were embroiled in a potential relegation battle. Performances on the pitch were troubling while goals were proving hard to come by. However, the Spaniard would prove to be the right man to navigate Leverkusen back on course. A phenomenal end to the campaign saw the Werkself qualify for the Europa League in what would have been unthinkable just months prior.
Alonso had been able to work his magic and no game better illustrated how far his side had come than their 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich last season. However, consistency was still an issue and signings had to be made if Leverkusen were to become a serious threat. The absence of Patrik Schick for the majority of last season had also left a void in the goalscoring department for Alonso.
Nevertheless, the 41-year-old already had a replacement in mind in the form of Victor Boniface. The Nigerian striker has proven to be a remarkable acquisition with six goal contributions in his first four appearances. He would be a constant menace to the Bayern backline by combining his strength, speed, technical ability and intelligence to create an abundance of opportunities. Despite failing to find the back of the net, the signs are there that Boniface could take the Bundesliga by storm and be the difference maker for Bayer in the race for the Meisterschale.
GGFN | Will Shopland