Bayer Leverkusen played host to their neighbours from Mönchengladbach this week, with former Werkself head coach Gerardo Seoane returning to the BayArena for the first team since he left the club in October 2022.
Gladbach came with a plan to defend deep and try to play on the counter, which ultimately frustrated Leverkusen as they failed to take advantage.
Xabi Alonso’s side may have been able to find a winner in the dying embers in the matches against FC Augsburg and RB Leipzig, but could not repeat the trick against this weekend.
Leverkusen were unusually wasteful in front of goal
It looked from the outset that Leverkusen were in for a frustrating evening against their visiting neighbours.
Chances that would not evade Die Werkself nine times out of ten, found a way to whistle past Moritz Nicolas’ post or into his welcoming arms.
As is the norm, the pair found themselves with chances to open the scoring, but lacked the finishing touch that opposition defences are so used to seeing.
Frimpong in particular found himself in a number of goal scoring opportunities, a look of disbelief seemed to be plastered on his face after he failed to find the back of the net multiple times.
The disbelief turned to evident frustration, visible on many of the Leverkusen squad who, after 28 shots, simply could not find a way to score.
Midfield dynamo Florian Wirtz was at the centre of proceedings once again, but even he was left frustrated against a Gladbach defence that held firm against the onslaught of attacks from the home side.
With Victor Boniface’s injury ruling him out of action until April, Iglesias’ arrival should compensate for the loss of the Nigerian and his ability to link play at the top of the pitch, alleviating some of the pressure and reliance on Patrik Schick.
Gladbach weather the Leverkusen storm
After a disappointing quickfire double from Augsburg sank Gladbach last week, their defensive solidity was much better against Alonso’s side.
From minute one Die Werkself came at Gladbach, but were repelled on most occasions and failed to find the back of the net on the others.
Despite defending exceptionally well, Leverkusen did create more than enough chances to win the game.
Their performance at the back merited that fortune however, succeeding where Augsburg and Leipzig failed, and prevented Leverkusen from scoring.
The Foals’ American defender Joe Scally was praised by Seoane in the build-up to the game, whose work rate and desire was evident throughout.
Florian Neuhaus has been linked with a January switch from Gladbach, but was given the nod today ahead of the recovering Rocco Reitz.
The midfielder put in what was ultimately a crucial, last-ditch tackle to prevent the onrushing Frimpong from having a shot on goal.
Bayern clash grows in significance
Bayern Munich’s win in Augsburg brings Leverkusen into reaching distance, but Alonso’s side are still two points clear.
However, Leverkusen failing to capitalise on their dominant performance and ultimately dropping two points will frustrate the league leaders.
It’s clear Die Werkself have strength in depth, but injuries, AFCON and Tah’s suspension has put a clear strain on the squad that has and is continuing to compete in three competitions.
Bayern’s injury issues have also been mounting, with Kingsley Coman being the latest to be ruled out of action.
If Bayern are confident they can make up the distance and lift the Meisterschale at the end of the season after suffering two losses, two dropped points certainly won’t faze Alonso and Leverkusen.
It is far too early to say the result of the top-two clash will decide the title, but there is no denying the importance of what could be a vital three points for both sides.
Borussia earn a big point amid run of difficult fixtures
Gladbach are in the midst of a very difficult run of games in the Bundesliga, having now played Eintracht Frankfurt, VfB Stuttgart, Augsburg and Leverkusen back-to-back.
Gladbach find themselves in 12th place in the Bundesliga table and unlikely to be troubled with relegation, leaving the BayArena with points in tow has proven to be a commodity for most teams this season.
Stuttgart proved against RB Leipzig this weekend that despite the absence of Serhou Guirassy and a slight wobble to their form upon the Bundesliga’s restart, they have the quality to tear teams apart.
Despite the disappointing manner in which Seoane’s side lost at home to Augsburg, the four points gained from two sides in the top three is nothing to be looked down upon.
A result against Bayern would simply be the icing on the cake for the way in which Gladbach have navigated a difficult run of games, before travelling to giant-killing 1.FC Saarbrucken for their DFB-Pokal quarter final, in what promises to be a fantastic occasion.