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Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich at the top of the German League

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich at the top of the German League

As of: September 14, 2023 at 8:21 AM

Three games, three wins – Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen meet at the top of the league on Friday (September 15, 2023, live audio and tape on Sportschau.de), each with an impeccable record. The fact that Bayern are not favored this time is down to the Bayer coach.

Of course, it’s not entirely new that the Bayer Leverkusen coach has Mia San Mia’s past. Jupp Heynckes, for example, sat on Bayer’s bench from 2009 to 2011, followed by former Bayern striker Bruno Labbadia for a year and Klaus Augenthaler between 2003 and 2005.

There were even more attempts to implant among the people of Munich the idea of ​​success, which lies somewhere between healthy self-confidence and unpleasant arrogance, in the chemical city on the Rhine. Dietmar Kremer, Erich Rebeck and Peter Herrmann all worked at both clubs. But only one club won championship titles. That could change this season.

Tactical fox without display effects

It’s still very early in the season, but Leverkusen, vilified as a ‘vice racer’ after missing out on silverware, appear to finally be on their way to relinquishing their place in second place. There’s a lot of things right about this team, starting with the coaching bench. Xabi Alonso has not worked at the highest level for a long time, yet many in Spain see him as the future coach of Real Madrid.

As a coach, the long-time global strategist in defensive midfield for Real and Bayern has an impressive mix of tactical skills and a confident, reliable demeanor without a hint of showmanship.

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He is disciplined and dedicated to his work, and abandons transparent psychological influences and games in order to impress his opponent. Xabi Alonso is the opposite of Uli Hoeness and Christoph Daum, and before the clash with his former club, he publicly admitted that this was something for him. “Big challenge” he. He says immediately after that: “But we have great confidence.”

Xhaka and Boniface are the perfect reinforcements

Bayer coach Fernando Caro sees Xabi Alonso as the driving force behind the massive reinforcements ahead of this season, especially striker Victor Boniface, captain Granit Xhaka and Jonas Hofmann.

Thanks to this trio, it goes unnoticed that a striker of European quality, Patrik Schick, will soon be out for nine months or that an elegant man like Moussa Diaby has left the club in the summer. “The coach always plays an important role in a player’s decision to join the club.”Caro told Sportbild. He added: “He knows what the dressing room needs. He has won everything, and the players listen to him.”

Scene under Bush and Schmidt

What should also worry Bayern, unlike in all previous years, is the balance between attack and defense that Xabi Alonso has succeeded in achieving. Bayer Leverkusen’s matches may have been more enjoyable to watch under Peter Bosz between 2018 and 2021, but that was also due to the spectacle factor, which included a very high number of goals conceded. It was similar between 2014 and 2017 under Roger Schmidt, always pressing, pressing, pressing without any breaks. The team simply could not do this in crucial stages.

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Now it’s perfectly fine for Xabi Alonso if Hoffman breaks up situations back instead of risking a bad pass or dribbling against two or three opponents. Or when Xhaka slows down to regulate forward movement and then speeds it up again with his sharp passes and chips in behind the opposition defence.

measuring Challenges By Thomas Tuchel

Gerardo Siwani was Xabi Alonso’s immediate predecessor at Leverkusen, and going into his second round with Mönchengladbach, he knew exactly what was coming for his team. But the Swiss could not prevent this, as all his plans against Xhaka’s chips, Boniface’s scores and the lively behavior of Florian Wirtz and Jonas Hoffmann came to naught in what was still a fantastic 0:3 match. Perhaps it was also due to Siwan’s staff, which of course cannot be compared to Bayern’s.

But it will be interesting to see how Thomas Tuchel wants to meet all these challenges, doubling and running behind Hofmann and Jeremy Frimpong on the right, crosses from Alex Grimaldo on the left, and the power of Xhaka and Axel Palacios in goal. The center passes to Boniface.

Kimmich is on the brink

The question for Bayern is also how they will deal with the international break, which is particularly stressful psychologically. Joshua Kimmich is ill and missed the compensation match against France after the Japan disaster. Leon Goretzka was no longer needed. For Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry and especially Thomas Muller, it was a roller-coaster ride between collapse and rebirth in the space of four days.

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It will be interesting to see whose frustration or even momentum Tuchel incorporates into his plan against Leverkusen. What he intends to do with Mueller, for example, is not yet entirely clear. Tuchel has Harry Kane up front, but the luxury problem he has on the outside and in the ten with Gnabi, Sane, Müller, Kingsley Coman, Jamal Musiala and behind him Matisse Till and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting looks luxurious, but it also always creates tension.

Xabi Alonso, Tuchel’s teammate, rarely has to answer all the annoying questions about those who are not playing. At some point, he could play Adam Hlozek or Robert Andrić in midfield – and no one will accuse him of ignorance because they weren’t in the starting line-up.

Focus on football without pressure

Working in Leverkusen is less stressful than working in Munich. Xabi Alonso can focus fully on football, and still believably embody the San Mia gene. This could be the combination that finally produces a new German champion this season. Friday can bring a taste.