Bayer Leverkusen overcame a lacklustre Union Berlin side 4-0 to reclaim top spot in the Bundesliga. From the first whistle, the rhythm of the game was set with Leverkusen applying the pressure on Urs Fsicher’s side. However, for all of Die Werkself’s quality, it would take a moment of magic from Alejandro Grimlado to open the scoring. A neat one-two with Florian Wirtz allowed the Spaniard to strike upon goal, and his curling, dipping effort flew over Frederik Rønnow to give the Werkself a 1-0 half-time lead.
However, after the interval, it would get no better for Union, as Leverkusen looked to put the game beyond reach. Within half an hour, two corners would do just that. Firstly, Jonas Hofmann’s corner was headed in by Odilon Kossounou for his first Bundesliga goal to double the host’s lead before Jonathan Tah showed composure to calmly guide a loose ball into the top corner. With the game all but over, Nathan Tella would find time to add a fourth as Leverkusen’s dream start to the season carries on. As for Union, their fairytale seems all but over, and the nightmare of relegation continues to haunt them as they drop to the bottom of the Bundesliga table.
Since the start of the season, it has become apparent that Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich will be pushing each other all the way. After a hard-fought draw at the Allianz Arena – in which Die Werkself could have come away with all three points in their biggest test of the campaign – Leverkusen have continued to flourish.
While Der Rekordmeister have been able to keep up the pace, their performances have left a lot to be desired, suggesting that Leverkusen’s consistency makes their phenomenal form far more sustainable. As Bayern faltered against Heidenheim on Saturday afternoon, escaping with all three points after the newly promoted side fought back, Xabi Alosno’s side proved once again why they have such a commanding lead at the top of the Bundesliga table.
With 17 shots on goal compared to Union’s two and over 68% of possession, Leverkusen were in control from the first minute. Their relentless nature and attractive style of play has blown the rest of the Bundesliga away. While their main threat in Bayern continue to underwhelm, the Werkslef are showing no signs of slowing down their momentum with a dominant display against Union.
Since 2004, Union Berlin have had to overcome adversity. From the fans donating blood to ensure the existence of their beloved club to fighting their way to the Bundesliga, it has never been easy for Die Eisernen. Then, since promotion to Germany’s top flight, accusations that they have been fortunate to improve season upon season have been strife, yet they once again continued to prove people wrong.
However, while their twelve-game losing run in all competitions came to an end in the Champions League against Napoli, their race could be run in the Bundesliga. Defeat to Bayer Leverkusen has left Urs Fischer’s bottom of the league, and there are no signs of change any time soon.
Their lethal counterattacking, which has made them such a feared opponent in the Bundesliga since their promotion, has been nowhere to be seen, and against Leverkusen, they were only able to register a 0.04 xG. If they remain leaky at the back and toothless in attack, relegation will be a serious concern for Die Eisernen, as their confidence appears to be completely drained. Reality has certainly hit them hard.
Last season, Bayer Leverkusen proved how good they could be under Xabi Alonso after the Spanish head coach took over from Gerardo Seoane in October. However, they have started this season in unprecedented fashion, and they have their summer signings to thank.
Nevertheless, while the likes of Granit Xhaka and Victor Boniface have performed admirably, Alejandro Grimaldo has come to the forefront as Die Werkself’s main man. A stunning goal from outside the box to open the scoring against Union ensured that the recently called-up Spanish international notched up his eighth goal of the season and set Leverkusen on their way to three points.
However, in the second half, as Leverkusen continued to dismantle Union, Grimaldo would claim his sixth assist of the season with a sumptuous corner to allow Jonathan Tah the chance to make it 3-0. Another phenomenal performance from the 28-year-old has helped maintain the Werkself’s lead at the top of the Bundesliga table, as his signing continues to look like one of the best pieces of business this summer.
GGFN | Will Shopland