Bayer 04 travels to Munich next week on Friday as league leaders for the top match. After the 3:2 victory in the opener against RB Leipzig, this is the second major test for the Werksklub. Midfielder Granit Xhaka demonstrates Leverkusen’s new self-image ahead of this one.
The match against Darmstadt 98 (5:1) had only been whistled for a few minutes and already the focus was inevitably on the top match on the next matchday: Bayer 04 at FC Bayern München. First against second. The so far so convincing factory club against the reigning champion and record holder.
This top match on Friday evening (why actually on the earliest date at the end of an international match period, in which both clubs call up the majority of their personnel?) electrifies the league. How strong is Bayer 04? Can coach Xabi Alonso’s team become a real competitor for the Munich side this season? Questions that Leverkusen’s professionals hope to answer positively next week.
“Great respect for Bayern, but no fear “
Granit Xhaka, Bayern’s new leader, is someone who calls a spade a spade. The 30-year-old, who arrived from FC Arsenal in the summer, shows the self-confidence that the Werkself has built up in preparation and on the first three match days. “Bayern Munich is still Bayern Munich. Quite a lot of respect for Bayern, but don’t be afraid,” is his watchword, “we won’t go to Munich now and defend for 90 minutes – at least I hope we will. “
The Swiss international emphasises Munich’s class, but equally his own. “That Bayern have qualities, we don’t need to talk about that. With Harry Kane, they have brought in a bombastic striker who can always be dangerous. But I don’t want to talk much about Munich now. We have to concentrate on ourselves,” says Xhaka. The clear message: if we play our game, we are also strong.
“We can play with freedom “
This awareness has developed this summer and has even solidified in the meantime. After all, the style of play was too clear. The performances were too convincing to give rise to any real doubts. “We’ve taken the nine points from the first three games really well. Now we’re going to Munich and can play freely, but it’s not that we have nothing to lose, we want to score points against such a strong team,” explains the midfielder confidently, “in order to see where we really stand.
At the moment, that’s right at the top. The top match in Munich will provide the first clues as to whether this status can become a permanent one.