Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Augsburg – BayArena – Matthew Marshall
Bayer Leverkusen breezed past Augsburg 2-0 at the BayArena to record their fifth consecutive victory in all competitions. Kai Havertz was given the captaincy for the first time, creating the opener for Moussa Diaby before Nadiem Amiri sealed the deal with his first goal for the Werkself.
Wendell and Moussa Diaby were looking dangerous down Leverkusen’s left wing in the early going with Raphael Framberger and Tin Jedvaj under heavy pressure. Bayer Leverkusen asserted their dominance at home once again, monopolising ball possession, field position and deservedly taking the lead in the 29th minute.
Kai Havertz evaded two Augsburg defenders before releasing Moussa Diaby, the French flyer taking a touch before burying it past Tomás Koubek. Wendell and Diaby continued to cause havoc as Leverkusen took a 1-0 lead into half time.
Havertz’s cross was too deep for Diaby to start the second half before Wendell’s shot was punched away by Koubek. Havertz should have had his second assist after setting up Mitchell Weiser on the penalty spot but the full-back shot wide.
Sven Bender had moved into a defensive midfield role and became heavily involved. He released Diaby who saw his shot saved from a tight angle but Bender got his assist minutes later. Bender sent Nadiem Amiri on a forward run, the Augsburg defenders stood off and the 23-year-old took advantage by firing into the bottom corner.
The hosts lost control in the final 15 minutes as Augsburg finally created chances, but they were unable to take them in a match where they had just 24% possession. Diaby spurned two opportunities in the closing stages but it was job done.
Although a routine win for B04, Bosz was clearly unhappy with the performance, telling Get German Football News: “I was not so pleased with the way we played, we must play much better to beat Porto next Thursday in all areas. In defence, in build-up, in all areas and in scoring goals.”
Kai Havertz received the armband against Augsburg to become the youngest player to captain a Bundesliga side since Lukas Podolski in 2005. So often Bayer Leverkusen’s best player, he displayed his class once again by setting up Diaby for the opening goal.
Havertz might not be going anywhere this summer. The 20-year-old continues to develop and there is little need for him to move to another club where his importance and playing time could be reduced. Leverkusen have the finances to dramatically increase his wages and further improve their squad.
The Werkself are improving after a full preseason and Hinrunde under Peter Bosz, made some sharp signings in the winter window and are close to challenging at the top of the Bundesliga table.
Flexible formations and players
Peter Bosz is fortunate to have plenty of players capable of operating in variable positions. Much of it is down to his coaching as evidenced by Julian Brandt’s development in central midfield.
Leverkusen began with a back three against Augsburg that transitioned into a back two. Sven Bender stepped up into central midfield which allowed Nadiem Amiri to play in an attacking role from which he scored Bayer’s second goal.
Lars Bender’s flexibility is another weapon for Bosz alongside an abundance of talented central midfielders.
Amiri off the mark
Nadiem Amiri has forced his way into the side with some dynamic performances in central midfield. He has had to focus on the defensive aspect of his game which will undoubtedly improve his game and benefit his career.
Amiri had the first attempt of the match that was tipped wide by Koubek, but the former Hoffenheim midfielder is rarely deterred from trying his luck. He was visibly relieved at scoring his first goal for Leverkusen in his 29th appearance for the club and I expect more in the coming months.
Patience with Palacios
Bayer Leverkusen paid River Plate €17m to secure the services of 21-year-old central midfielder Exequiel Palacios in January. He played 90 minutes in the 2-1 win against Stuttgart in the DFB-Pokal and got his first taste of Bundesliga action against Augsburg.
A clever ball over the defence to Lucas Alario in the opening minutes created a chance before two loose passes in succession caused groans from the crowd. A great tackle in the second half sent Diaby through that resulted in Havertz hitting the bar.
Palacios needs time to understand Leverkusen’s tactics, Bosz’s expectations and to get on the same wavelength as his teammates. The Argentine has plenty potential but faces competition in central midfield alongside Charles Aránguiz, Kerem Demirbay, Nadiem Amiri and Julian Baumgartlinger.
“It was OK. It was his first Bundesliga game and I was pleased with it,” Bosz told GGFN after the game.
Florian Niederlechner headed a Philipp Max corner wide in the visitors’ only chance in the first half. It appeared the only way Augsburg were going to score was through a Leverkusen error or set piece.
Ruben Vargas replaced an ineffective Hans Fredrik Jensen in the 59th minute and Eduard Löwen replaced Rani Khedira in the 78th but it was too little too late. Augbsurg had their best chance in the 88th minute with Niederlechner’s shot saved by Hrádecky.
Alfred Finnbogason’s introduction for Marco Richter in the 89th minute was largely pointless. Martin Schmidt’s side have been poor in 2020 and showed little resistance as they became the latest victims at the BayArena.
I was not so pleased with the way we played, we must play much better to beat Porto next Thursday in all areas. In defence, in build-up, in all areas and in scoring goals.