Taking a look at the scoreline after Sunday evening’s closing Bundesliga game would imply that Bayer Leverkusen eased their way to victory over Fortuna Düsseldorf. If it was not for a sublime stop from Lukáš Hrádecký to deny Rouwen Hennings if the score was only 1-0, there might have been a very different outcome.
Leverkusen began the game lethargically likely thinking that Dusseldorf, who’d gone bottom of the table following Paderborn’s remarkable win off to SC Freiburg, weren’t likely to threaten them. Adding Sobotka rather than Bodzek gave the midfield somewhat more dynamism and vitality, which helped to quell the house side. Sobotka has struggled with injuries since the team gained promotion, and it was great to see him back in the starting eleven.
While the side fought to trouble Leverkusen in the first half, they came out to the second half and took the game to the hosts. Unfortunately, as at virtually every level of professional soccer, if you neglect to take your opportunities, you’ll be punished.
Poor, old Florian Kastenmeir, who was credited with the own-goal in the former defeat against Werder Bremen, was at fault for the second objective. With Zack Steffen just on loan and obviously able to perform at a higher level compared to Fortuna, Kastenmeir seems like he could be a fantastic goalkeeper for the future. Being just 22-years-old, he has lots of time to learn from such mistakes.
Funkel seemed to be uplifted despite the defeat. In accordance with the Werder Bremen game earlier, when Stöger comes on, the staff feels more comfortable and seems dangerous. If Fortuna will stay up, he wants to be starting games whenever possible. While he’s clearly being held back as a result of fitness problems, time is against Funkel, and it can be worth a bet on his fitness. If the club return, it’s not likely that a participant of Stöger’s quality will be playing at the next Bundesliga.
Following the match, the team announced that Eric Thommy suffered a bruised knee. Steven Skrzybski, the sole January move for the club, suffered a thigh strain. Thommy has been a bright spark when he’s played, so hopefully, he is going to be all set against Frankfurt on Saturday afternoon. This will be a tiny setback for a player who’ll be eager to demonstrate he can perform at this level.
If both are unavailable for Saturday, Funkel will probably bring Kownaki and Ampomah to the wide positions. That would be a terrific opportunity for Ampomah to actually prove to the manager he deserves to start. If Funkel gambles on playing Stöger, playing Kownaki is a great ploy. The Polish striker would benefit from a more creative midfield player who will give him more opportunities. Last year, Kownacki looked just like a real possibility, whereas this year his lack of goals seems to have dented his confidence. He is barely getting chances in games, and as soon as the strange one falls to him he’s snatching at them. Scoring on Saturday would be an enormous boost of confidence for him and the group.
We might only be two games to the Rückrunde, but Fortuna would be the only side yet to have scored. If Fortuna is to beat the fall, other players will need to begin providing goals. Frankfurt will provide a stern test on Saturday, but Fortuna really must pick up the 3 points at home.