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Sports

Munich Mauled by Marauding Leverkusen

Bayern Munich came to the BayArena on Saturday looking to close the gap on Werder Bremen at the top of the league. Losing 4-1 to a rampant Bayer Leverkusen team was not part of the plan.

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Two goals from Franca (left) and two from Berbatov sunk Bayern

With the grouping for the opening phase of the European Champions League decided, both Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich could get on with the domestic business of attempting to win the Bundesliga.

While the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus lie in wait, Leverkusen and Munich will face stern tests in the coming months as they aim to capitalize on their chances in the continent's premier cup competition. But Saturday was all about the Bundesliga; the meeting of old rivals, the reunion of old friends and the race for the title

This leg of this race got off to a false start for Bayern. It is not unsusual for the visiting team to wait and see what the home side aims to throw at them but Munich seemed unprpared for what Leverkusen had in store for them.

Bayern looked nervous in the opening minutes. Owen Hargreaves, usually a defensive midfielder, started the game as a left-back and looked a little lost and unsure on the ball. With Leverkusen's wide men Krzynowek and Berbatov rampaging from the off, Bayern looked unbalanced at the back.

Intelligent play set tempo for Bayer

Leverkusen began to spread the play wide with Krzynowek seeing more and more of the ball. Through the middle, Ponte was more than a match for Ballack and Deisler and Berbatov was mesmerizing first Hargreaves and then Thomas Linke as the attacks increased pace and frequency.

One particular move into the box looked to have been interupted by Hargreaves' hand, a fact the replay confirmed, but the penalty never came desipte cries from the crowd and the Leverkusen attackers.

Krzynowek continued to dominate the left flank as the half progressed and more and more of Leverkusen's attacks involved his wing play. With the midfield under Ponte's control, Bayern looked to counter-attack but the home side look happy to soak up the pressure and release their wide men at every opportunity.

Berbatov too hot to handle for Hargreaves

Bayern's defensive liabilities were exposed after 20 minutes. Hargreaves was robbed by Berbatov on the edge of the area. The striker chased the skidding ball into the area and slotted it beyond Kahn to take the lead.

The pattern of the game varied little for the rest of the half. Leverkusen smothered the rare Bayern attacks and constantly threatened at the other end.

It was only in the second half when Leverkusen's full potential would be realized. The attacking confidence seen in spurts and carefully staged offensive moves during the first 45 minutes was unleashed as Bayern looked to get on equal terms.

Second half mauling started early

Munich didn't stand a chance. Within six minutes of the restart, Franca traded passes with Berbatov on the edge of the area before lobbing Kahn with power from the outside of his left foot.

Five minutes later, the Brazilian scored again. After weaving through the defense, Franca hit a skidding shot under Kahn from the edge of the box with the goalkeeper clutching at the wet ball in vain.

And only three minutes after that, it was 4-0. Berbatov and Franca again combined well and this time the Brazilian set up his striking partner to whip in a shot from the edge of the box to kill the game.

Game over at hour mark

The match was over by the 60 minute mark with a cat and mouse game ensuing. Bayern were the dying mouse with Leverkusen's indifferent cat toying with its prey as the last seconds of life drained from it.

In what could be seen as a deaththroe, Michael Ballack scored from distance to give Bayern something to take back home to Bavaria.

Bayern will have to produce much better displays in Europe if they want to survive. Leverkusen, however, may have another Champions League adventure on their hands if they continue to play like this.

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  • Date 28.08.2004
  • Author Nick Amies
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/5Uqz
  • Date 28.08.2004
  • Author Nick Amies
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/5Uqz