Football Features

Leverkusen 2-4 Bayern: Goretzka the driving force behind massive Lewandowski and MΓΌller milestones

By Chris Smith

Published: 16:25, 6 June 2020

Bayern Munich marched one step closer to the Bundesliga title in style on Saturday with a 4-2 thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen.

Hansi Flick’s side fell to an early Lucas Alario goal as Leverkusen seemed to catch Bayern cold, but it didn’t take long for the reigning champions to get to grips with their hosts.

Kingsley Coman drew Bayern level in the 27th minute, while goals from Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski put Peter Bosz’s side to bed. Bayern have now scored 90 goals in 30 league games this season — a new Bundesliga record.

Youngster Florian Wirtz scored his first senior goal for Leverkusen in the final few minutes with a beautifully curled finish. Although it was nothing more than a mere consolation, it did make him the Bundesliga’s youngest-ever goalscorer.

So, what did we learn from Saturday’s encounter?

1. Lewandowski sinks bogey team to continue hot streak

Is there any stopping Lewandowski? The Poland international is ageing like a fine wine, getting better and better as he advances into his thirties, scoring goals at an alarming rate and showing no signs of slowing down.

Lewandowski was at it again on Saturday, heading home a fine Thomas Muller cross — the German’s 20th assist of the season — to give Bayern an insurmountable 4-1 lead over Leverkusen. That was just his second goal in nine appearances against Leverkusen, who have proved something of a difficult opponent for Lewandowski over the years.

In doing so, Lewandowski didn’t just score his fifth goal in five games since the Bundesliga restart, but that made it an incredible 44 goals across all competitions for the season — the most he has ever scored in a single campaign throughout his entire career.

There’s no doubting Lewandowski has been the greatest centre-forward on the planet over the past decade.

2. Bayern win comes at a price

There’s no denying just how vital this Bayern win is — Bayer Leverkusen have been extremely impressive since the Bundesliga restart and this game will have been earmarked by Flick as a potential stumbling block in their title run-in. However, it didn’t come without a cost.

First, Lewandowski received a yellow card for a foul on Sven Bender in the 32nd minute, then Muller was also booked less than 10 minutes later for foolishly denying Leverkusen from taking a quick free-kick.

Both are now suspended for what will be a very tricky tie against fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach next time out and although Bayern are all but assured of winning the title, Flick will know it isn’t sealed until the points are in the bag.

3. Havertz absence cripples Leverkusen

When Leverkusen took the lead in the 10th minute through Alario — the man replacing Kai Havertz in the starting line-up — it very much felt like “no Havertz, no problem” for the home side. As we would quickly find out, that was simply not the case.

The “crown prince of German football” has been superb since the Bundesliga restart, scoring five goals in four games and playing a pivotal role in Leverkusen’s all-round play from his false nine position.

On Saturday, Bosz’s side were simply unable to build any attacks through the middle, with Alario being hounded out by Bayern’s centre-backs.

This reduced Leverkusen to speculative crosses from out wide, and from very deep positions, making it incredibly easy for Bayern to defend against them once they gained a foothold in the match.

Bosz’s three half-time substitutions did little to buck this trend, with Bayern continuing to assert their dominance throughout the second half and all honesty, 2-4 was quite a flattering scoreline for the hosts.

4. Leon Goretzka: Bayern Munich’s midfield machine

There’s a hell of a lot to admire about this Bayern Munich team: Alphonso Davies looks like a generational talent, Lewandowski is a ruthless assassin in front of goal and the likes of Gnabry and Coman are lighting fast and terrifyingly effective. One player who consistently seems to go under the radar for Flick’s men, however, is midfield machine, Leon Goretzka.

The Germany international has been quietly fantastic over the past month, passing with grace and precision, asserting real physical dominance and proving himself as a potent attacking threat.

Goretzka was at it again on Saturday, assisting Coman’s opener with a defence-splitting ball and giving Bayern the lead with a slick left-footed finish in the 42nd minute, while throughout the first half he completed 94% of his passes and made three tackles.

Goretzka didn’t let up after the break, either, leaving the pitch in the 74th minute with a 90.9% overall pass completion rate and 88.9% pass completion rate in the opposition half.

5. Leverkusen suffer huge Champions League blow

It was never going to be easy against Bayern, but Gladbach’s 1-0 defeat to Freiburg on Friday offered Leverkusen a real opportunity to claw themselves back into the top four.

Saturday, however, was a complete disaster, with Leverkusen quickly throwing away their early lead and crumbling against a Bayern side which out-run, out-manoeuvred and out-played them across the pitch.

Gladbach face Bayern themselves next, while Leverkusen face out-of-form sides such as Schalke 04 and FC Koln, so all is certainly not lost. But Bosz will certainly be counting the cost of this heavy defeat, not least because of the damage it does to Leverkusen’s goal difference.

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