Seven points behind: three takeaways from Bayer Leverkusen v FC Bayern
Niko Kovač’s men have now slipped back into third place behind Borussia Mönchengladbach, and are now seven points adrift of Dortmund.
Over the years, Bayer Leverkusen have been something of a bogey team. Even when the form book suggests otherwise, Die Werkself have had this irritating habit of pulling out all the stops against Die Roten. This week it was no different.
Leverkusen had been touted as a title threat at the start of the season, but have failed to find any sort of consistency. They have already sacked one coach, and had been turned over four times in their opening nine home matches at the BayArena. Their first home match under new coach Peter Bosz had been an insipid 0:1 defeat against Gladbach, and Bayern fans were hoping for more of the same. Alas, no.
Even without star man Kai Havertz who was subbed out at half time, Leverkusen were able to puncture the Bayern line three times in what was yet another disjointed display from the Bavarians.
Last week against Stuttgart, there was a moment where what turned into a straightforward win could have finished up as an embarrassing draw. A fleeting moment where the post came to Bayern’s aid, where the Swabians could have pulled the score back to 2:2.
This time, the boot was on the other foot. Bayern had dominated the first half, and everything had gone to plan. Leon Goretzka’s Ballack-esque finish had given the visitors the lead four minutes before the break, and Robert Lewandowski looked to have doubled the advantage deep into added time. However there was an offside flag. Cue over a minute of VAR drama.
For me, even after taking off my Bayern-tinted glasses and watching the replay half a dozen times, Lewy was level with the last defender. The commentators seemed to agree. Crucially, the video official did not.
Bayern should really have been two goals in front at half time, but nothing should have stopped them from rinsing and repeating in the second half. Annoyingly, we saw another version of what has been this season’s script. A solid first half, and a shocking second.
In fairness, the Leverkusen coach must have said some pretty harsh words to his players in the dressing room, as they looked like a completely different team. Making his first start of the season, Sven Ulreich could have arguably done a little better in dealing with Leon Bailey’s excellently-placed free-kick. But he could do little to prevent meltdown that followed.
Bayern were unable to repeat their first half display, and completely buckled as the home side upped the ante. Leverkusen scored a second, and right at the death added a flattering third. What made it worse was it did actually look offside.
The only upside was that 200 kilometres away in Frankfurt, an equaliser for die Adler would prevent Dortmund from opening a nine-point buffer at the top.