FC Bayern conquers lead in the standings at Leverkusen: This time it worked even without superpowers

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FC Bayern celebrates Lewandowski’s double goal, while Leverkusen makes a “childish mistake. Hansi Flick changes Leroy Sané in and out – but doesn’t want to know about a maximum penalty before the feast of love.

Scene of the match: It was the third minute of injury time. Leverkusen center back Jonathan Tah put the ball too far in front of him, Robert Lewandowski stole it off his foot and dribbled into the penalty area on the left. The striker was lucky that Edmond Tapsoba deflected the ball into his own goal. Shortly after, the game was over, the Bayern players formed a circle and celebrated the – how shall we say – Christmas championship?

The result: FC Bayern turned a 0:1 deficit into a 2:1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen in the last Bundesliga match of the year. The Munich team is now celebrating Christmas at the top of the table, two points ahead of Leverkusen. Read the match report here.

Thanks for the flowers: Bayer Leverkusen handed out presents even before the game. Manuel Neuer and Robert Lewandowski each received a bouquet of flowers from managing director Rudi Völler to congratulate them on their Fifa world titles. That wasn’t enough for Jonathan Tah and Lukas Hradecky. In the 43rd minute, both got in each other’s way after a cross from Thomas Müller and gifted Lewandowski the equalizer. The striker only had to head the ball into the empty goal. Then, shortly before the end, Tah and Tapsoba helped out again. His world football superpowers Lewandowksi did not need at all for his goals. “I hope that we continue to score goals like this next year,” Lewandowski said later on Sky. He can’t have meant it that way.

First half: Leverkusen secured the ball more often in the opening phase, but initially did not create any chances. Then the lead came after a standard. Nadiem Amiri crossed into the sixteen as a result of a corner kick and Patrik Schick scored a free-standing volley to make it 1:0 (14.). Leverkusen remained more active, an offside goal by Schick did not count (29.). Then, shortly before the break, Lewandowski struck for the first time.

On the favorite position: When the lineups appeared before the game, there was already speculation about how Bayern coach Hansi Flick would distribute his five nominal defenders across the field. The solution was then simple: David Alaba, most recently a center back, was allowed to play in his favorite position in defensive midfield. Perhaps this is also a means of convincing the top performer to extend his contract. Alaba then hardly stood out, however, and according to “whoscored.com” had only 58 ball contacts and a passing rate of 74 percent. It will be a long time before he can replace Thiago, the playmaker who has moved to Liverpool.

Second half: Bayern now pressed more often for the Leverkusen goal, but they did not allow a dangerous finish. After the initial pressure of the Munich team, the game was played more often in midfield. Amiri tested Neuer with a long-range shot (61.), Gnabry failed with a shot from an acute angle to Hradecky (66.). The biggest Bayern chance came from substitute Jamal Musiala, who hit the post (79th). Shortly before the final whistle, Lewandowski ensured victory.

Sané in, Sané out: Bayern coach Flick was delighted. Joshua Kimmich returned to the FC Bayern squad for the first time since his injury in early November. But already the injured list got a new member: Kingsley Coman had to be substituted battered in the first half. What exactly he has remained unclear at first. Flick substituted Leroy Sané for Coman. But the winger never found his way into the game and was substituted again after just 36 minutes – the maximum penalty. But wait: “Why maximum penalty?” asked Flick after the game, “If we substitute, we have to do it sensibly.” Flick explained that the change was tactically justified. In any case, Musiala was immediately more dangerous with his goal against the post.

The (N)unbeaten: Until the 93rd minute, it looked like Leverkusen would continue its (pretty much) perfect season to date. Peter Bosz’s team was the only team in the Bundesliga to remain unbeaten this season. A draw would have meant top spot in the table. But now the streak is over because of two defensive blunders. “A childish mistake,” goalkeeper Hradecky said on Sky about his lapse when he equalized: “We lost undeservedly.”

Exciting Bundesliga? It could all have been so exciting. A win and Bayer Leverkusen would have pulled away from Bayern to four points. On the other hand, that’s how it was last season. After 13 match days, Borussia Mönchengladbach was leading the league, with Bayern four points behind. In the end, the Munich team still won its eighth championship in a row. How will the current season end? We all know.

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