Bayern Munich pay penalty at Leverkusen ahead of Klassiker
For the second time in three weeks, Bayern Munich were under pressure to remain top of the table.
Borussia Dortmund put in a dominant performance in a 6-1 win over Cologne on Saturday night. To keep pace, Bayern needed to step up against a Leverkusen team high off qualifying for the Europa League quarterfinals.
But the showing from the perennial Bundesliga champions in Leverkusen’s BayArena was, instead, a step in the wrong direction. A first half goal from Joshua Kimmich was canceled out by two penalties from Exequiel Palacios, resulting in a 2-1 win for the home team.
The performance was emblematic of an inconsistent Bundesliga campaign, and with the Klassiker against Dortmund after the upcoming international break, Bayern are under pressure again to return to form.
"It’s very frustrating," Kimmich told reporters after the game. "We can all read the table. We all saw our performance today. We need to show that we have interest in all competitions."
How Leverkusen beat Bayern Munich
Bayern had a rare midweek off having ousted Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League Round of 16 the week before. But given how the game started, one would guess that Leverkusen were the fresher side despite a trip to Hungary to see off Ferencvaros in the Europa League.
Leverkusen outshot their guests eight to one in the first half. But that one shot, a powerful but deflected Joshua Kimmich effort from the top of the penalty area, saw the visiting side 1-0 up at halftime.
But Alonso’s side stuck with it, with Amine Adli earning the hosts two penalties — the first for a challenge from Benjamin Pavard and then one from Dayot Upamecano.
Adli was initially booked for diving in both incidents before the VAR intervened to award the hosts penalties. Palacios converted both to give Leverkusen a much-deserved 2-1 lead that they would never relinquish.
"That is not what Bayern Munich stands for," Hasan Salihamidzic, Bayern’s head of sport, told reporters after the game. "We allowed a team that played on Thursday to overrun us."
Must win game for Bayern against Dortmund
The result was the latest example of Bayern’s inconsistent performances in the Bundesliga despite looking unstoppable in the Champions League and German Cup.
The loss in Leverkusen came after a wild 5-3 victory against Augsburg and a harder-than-expected 2-1 win against Stuttgart — sides that should be easy wins for perennial Bundesliga winners.
When asked by DW about Bayern’s inconsistent league form, Kimmich gave a simple answer, blaming his side’s mentality going into Bundesliga matches.
"I think a lot of it comes down to concentration," Kimmich said. "When I see how we concede goals, it often comes too easy. It’s not often that opponents pick us apart and we don’t know how to defend them."
Salihamidzic agreed: "This team is so good when it has a good mentality and play 100% from kickoff. But we are just as bad when we play like we did today."
Kimmich didn’t mince words about what the result means for the Klassiker against Dortmund on April 1.
"The situation has clearly changed," he said. "We have to win to return to the top of the table."
Recent performances in the Champions League would suggest that a win against Dortmund is more than possible. That will only come if, like their opponents today, they turn up for the game.
Edited by: Matt Pearson