Football Features

Werder Bremen 1-4 Bayer Leverkusen: “Kai Havertz is on an ascent to German football royalty”

By Chris Smith

Published: 21:34, 18 May 2020

Kai Havertz inspired Bayer Leverkusen to a resounding 4-1 win over Werder Bremen on Monday night.

The 20-year-old scored two headers either side of a Theodor Gebre Selassie equaliser to fire Peter Bosz’s men into a 2-1 lead after 33 minutes.

In the second half, Mitchell Weiser and Kerem Demirbay finished the job, while Moussa Diaby had a fine game, notching two assists.

The result puts Leverkusen back in touch in the race for Champions League football, while Werder Bremen are staring down the barrel of relegation, but what did we learn from the match?

1. Kai Havertz’s ascent goes on

Before the temporary suspension of play, Havertz had been on fire, bagging five goals and five assists in his last eight outings across all competitions. On Monday, he added another two goals to that record to further justify his “Crown Prince of German Football” billing.

Playing through the middle as a false nine, Havertz rotated wonderfully with fellow forwards Diaby and Florian Wirtz, drifting wide, dropping deep and plunging the Bremen defence into chaos.

Liverpool have been heavily linked with Havertz in recent months and despite the serious attacking talent Jurgen Klopp has at his disposal, there’s no denying he could do with genuine competition for Roberto Firmino.

The fact that Havertz bagged two headers against Bremen only makes that an even more attractive prospect, while ex-Reds man Jan Molby recently stressed the need for Liverpool to add a player of the German’s quality into their midfield.

“I would dearly love us to get one,” Molby said on Liverpool‘s search for another ball-player. “Who would that be? We could go back to Germany, they play Monday night, Leverkusen, the young boy Kai Havertz looks a really, really good player.”

Whichever club he ends up at, and whatever position he plays in, the future is seriously bright for Havertz, who is already on an ascent to German football royalty.

2. Florian Wirtz makes Bundesliga history

Of course, it isn’t just Havertz who has been assembled in the Bayer Leverkusen youth factory. Manager Bosz also has the likes of Paulinho, Leon Bailey and Diaby at his disposal. And on Monday, a new name was added to that list: Florian Wirtz.

At just 17 years and 15 days old, Wirtz became the youngest-ever player to start a Bundesliga match for Leverkusen, beating the record previously held by, yes, you guessed it, Havertz. Furthermore, Wirtz is now the third-youngest player to ever feature in the Bundesliga, behind only Nuri Sahin (16 years, 11 months and one day) and Yann Aurel Bisseck (16 years, 11 months and 28 days).

Although he didn’t quite steal the show like Havertz, Wirtz can be seriously proud of his night’s work. The 17-year-old took the ball with supreme confidence, spinning and turning out of Bremen pressure showing calm on the ball way beyond his tender age — Wirtz completed two dribbles and was successful with 87% of his passes during his 61 minutes on the pitch.

Even with the already ridiculous amount of attacking options Bosz has in his arsenal, don’t bet on this being the last time we see Wirtz this season.

3. Werder Bremen’s wretched home record continues

Prior to Monday’s match, Bayer Leverkusen had taken a total of 22 points on the road, a whole 17 more than Werder Bremen have managed on their own patch. Well, now you can make that 20 points more.

Bremen have been truly terrible at the Weser Stadium in 2019/20, winning just once and scoring only 0.82 goals per game in 11 outings.

Monday night was no different as Leverkusen ran riot, tearing the Bremen defence open at will as Florian Kohfeldt’s side completely failed to cope with the pace and fluidity of their opponent’s forward line. 

Bremen are nine points clear of automatic safety and five away from a relegation play-off spot. With a home record as miserable as this, it’s hard to see them dragging themselves out of the mess they’re in, which could mean relegation for just the second time in their entire history.

4. Heading in the wrong direction

As mentioned, for all of Leverkusen‘s dynamic attacking play, Bremen’s defence was truly diabolical on Monday night, with three of the four conceded goals coming from headers. Both of Havertz’s efforts were free headers as a result of the German far too easily losing his markers, while Mitchell Weiser’s goal in the second half saw him charge across two Bremen defenders with absolutely no responsibility taken for who should be following him.

14 of the 59 goals Bremen have conceded in the Bundesliga this season have come from headers — a worrying stat within itself but what was even more striking was the sheer lack of effort and organisation among their defenders.

For such a decorated German footballing institution to be relegated for just the second time would be a shame. However, they seem to be sleepwalking toward that fate with barely a whimper of resistance right now.

Kohfeldt, his playing staff and those above him in the boardroom are under serious pressure right now.

5. Leverkusen keep in touch

It’s getting tight at the top of the Bundesliga, isn’t it?

Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach all won over the weekend to keep this enthralling title race going, and with their victory here, you can’t really rule Leverkusen out of the equation as Die Werkself moved to within eight points of the summit themselves.

With RB Leipzig only managing a 1-1 draw against Freiburg at the weekend — their third stalemate in a row — Leverkusen, who are now six games unbeaten in the Bundesliga, are just one point off a Champions League spot for next season.