Bayer Leverkusen seems prepared for the decisive phase of the season. Won despite risky rotation in Bremen, five competitive games in a row without defeat - Bayer coach Xabi Alonso was a satisfied man at the end of one English week and at the beginning of the next. "It wasn't our most spectacular performance, but we held up well," said the Spaniard after the hard-fought 3-2 (1-1) win at Werder Bremen. "Now it's time to continue on Thursday."
Thursday - that means Ferencvaros Budapest. After the 2-0 win in the first leg, the Bundesliga club from the Rhineland wants to make it into the quarter-finals of the Europa League in the Hungarian capital. "The full focus is on that now," said sporting director Simon Rolfes. The fact that Bayern will come to Leverkusen in the league on Sunday must first be ignored.
"It's going fast now, we have to watch game by game," said Rolfes. But Alonso proved with his line-up in Bremen that they have an eye on the big picture in Leverkusen. The Bayer coach made five changes, young star Florian Wirtz was slightly injured and was not even in the squad.
Bremen have arrived in the no man's land of the table
The 19-year-old midfielder should be back in Budapest and continue the sporting upswing of the Werkself. The goal is clear: Bayer wants to play internationally again next year. Whether it's about the title in the Europa League or a good placement in the league - the coming weeks will show that.
In Bremen, Leverkusen also had the necessary bit of luck. Werder actually had the better chances, but didn't reward themselves for their great effort. "If you score two goals against a team like Bayer Leverkusen and still don't get anything, then you have a problem," said Germany international Niclas Füllkrug, frustrated.
Due to the defeat, Bremen have finally arrived in no man's land in the table. With a ten-point lead on 16th place, there shouldn't be any more downside, but the defeat against Bayer means nothing up either. "In the end, the effectiveness in the penalty area made the difference," Werder coach Ole Werner analyzed the unnecessary defeat, which was also related to the Green-Whites' major personnel worries.