Matthew Marshall –
Bayer Leverkusen v Union Berlin – September 21, 2019 – BayArena, Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen dominated the opening minutes once again, monopolising the ball in Union’s half and trying to create opportunities. Lucas Alario squeezed a Lars Bender cross under Union keeper Rafal Gikiewicz, but referee Robert Hartmann ruled it out after consulting the touchline monitor due to Gikiewicz’s vision being blocked by an offside Leverkusen player.It mattered little as three minutes later Leverkusen took the lead. Nadiem Amiri released Kevin Volland, his cross was blocked by Christopher Trimmel straight back into his path, Volland making no mistake with a low and hard shot into the bottom corner.
In the 25th minute, it was 2-0. Wendell intercepted the ball in midfield, played in Lucas Alario who made some room and fired a left-footed finish past Gikiewicz. The remainder of the first half saw more Leverkusen possession but few shots on goal. Union Berlin went into half time without a shot on goal and unable to string more than three passes together. Their attempts at sitting back and defending clearly hadn’t worked, would Urs Fischer make some changes and go for broke?
He made one change at the break with Akaki Gogia replacing Sheraldo Becker on the right-wing. In the 49thminute Christopher Lenz was replaced by Ken Reichel just before Union won a rare corner. It was only a brief respite as Bayer Leverkusen went back on the front foot. Amiri’s shot was deflected for a corner from which Leverkusen had multiple opportunities to score, Wendell was the next to try his luck with a shot wide when Alario was screaming for the ball.
Union still hadn’t managed to produce a shot in the 60th minute when Sebastian Polter replaced Marcus Ingvartsen. He would last just three minutes on the pitch, stepping on Julian Baumgartlinger’s ankle from behind with referee Hartmann consulting the touchline monitor once again before producing a red card.
Lars Bender made way for Mitchell Weiser as both sets of fans began the familiar “Scheiß DFB” chants. Baumgartlinger made way for Kerem Demirbay with Weiser shooting over the bar and Demirbay forcing a save from Gikiewicz. Amiri saw another shot deflected wide, Demirbay’s effort forced a save as the onslaught continued. Aranguiz and Volland had attempts and Kai Havertz struck the crossbar, Paulinho replaced Amiri in the closing stages but Leverkusen couldn’t produce a third goal.
Bayer Leverkusen v Union Berlin – Three Stars
Lucas Alario (Bayer Leverkusen)
Alario got a long-overdue start and made it count. Thought he had put his side into the lead only to see it ruled out after a VAR intervention, but responded by producing a fine finish to make it 2-0.
Kevin Volland (Bayer Leverkusen)
Started on the left wing to accommodate Alario and gave Leverkusen the lead with an angled strike. Can play a number of positions across the front line and always seems to be involved in goalscoring opportunities and goals.
Nadiem Amiri (Bayer Leverkusen)
Showed great drive and directness from midfield and released Volland for Leverkusen’s opener. Will hope to be a step closer to a spot in Bosz’s starting XI, but like he and his teammates have to show it on a more consistent basis against stronger opposition.
Bayer Leverkusen v Union Berlin Goals
Goals: 1-0 (Volland 20’), 2-0 (Alario 25′)
Bayer Leverkusen v Union Berlin – Line-ups
Hradecky – Dragovic, S. Bender, Wendell, L. Bender (Weiser 67‘) – Baumgartlinger (Demirbay 70‘), Aranguiz, Volland, Amiri (Paulinho 83‘), Havertz – Alario
Gikiewicz – Trimmel, Friedrich, Schlotterbeck, Lenz (Reichel 49‘) – Becker (Gogia 46‘), Andrich, Gentner, Bülter – Ingvartsen (Polter 61‘), Andersson
Matthew Marshall is a freelance football journalist. Born in Australia and living in Germany, he is sports mad but his passion is undoubtedly the beautiful game. Primarily covering the Bundesliga and the Portuguese national team, he follows all the major European domestic leagues intently alongside both UEFA club competitions. A member of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Follow Matthew Marshall on Twitter @noobzcorp