Bayer 04 not only secured first place in Europa League Group H with a 2-0 win at BK Häcken, but also gave three professionals an important psychological boost ahead of the Dortmund game
Of course, everything revolved around Patrik Schick after the 2:0 win in Gothenburg. The center forward’s comeback, in which he came on from the 64th minute onwards, had decided the game with his goal just ten minutes after coming on as a substitute and provided the emotional highlight of Leverkusen’s trip to Sweden.
Schick smiled with relief after the goal and rushed straight to the Leverkusen bench to thank his therapists and team doctor Karl-Heinrich Dittmar, who had accompanied him on his long journey through the valley of physical and psychological suffering during his year-long injury period with adductor problems and an operation in the summer as well as a subsequent fiber tear in his calf.
“He really had a difficult time. We were all really happy. You could see that when everyone on the bench surrounded him,” said manager Simon Rolfes, “when he’s in top form, he’s one of the best goalscorers in the Bundesliga. There’s still some way to go before he gets there. But today it was important for his soul, his head and his heart to score for him. “
Boniface also breaks the spell
The collective jubilation at Schick’s comeback goal was also to Xabi Alonso’s liking. “He fought very hard to get fit again. When he enjoyed this moment, we wanted to share it with him – that’s a team,” explained the coach, who could not only look back on a successful goal therapy with Schick.
After all, Schick’s rival Victor Boniface had also scored in Gothenburg and stroked his scorer’s soul with a fourth Europa League goal of the season. The Nigerian has been waiting for a goal of his own in the Bundesliga since October 8.
Rolfes knows how important this goal is. “For a goalscorer and striker – and that’s what they both are – goals are always wonderful. They work for it and lurk for the chances,” said the ex-professional and praised the therapy reinforcement: “Boni did well in the first half and also rewarded himself with a goal. “
Initial spark for Stanisic?
A third Bayer professional also gave himself a boost with his strong performance: Josip Stanisic. The right-back set up both goals with his exemplary crosses and delivered by far his best performance for the Werkself.
A double success for the Croatian international on loan from Bayer Munich, which should spur him on to make his mark after an inconspicuous performance at best so far.
For Stanisic, the game could have been the sparking moment, as Rolfes also hopes for Schick. “Patrik is a player with the goal-scoring gene, he was right on the spot,” said the manager, “we’re all pleased that today was a bit of a starting shot. “
Xabi Alonso concluded by outlining the plan for the future with Schick: “Today was an important step for him. If he feels good – that’s the most important thing – we can give him more playing time. The next step is for him to be involved on Sunday. Maybe he can play 45 minutes in the next game,” explained the coach, “we have to help him get fit for January and the second half of the season before the winter break.”
However, the remaining six games until Christmas should be far more than just further therapeutic steps for Schick, as Rolfes emphasizes: “Patrik will still be a very, very important player. I’m thinking about the whole season and the next few weeks.” And perhaps also the top match against BVB on Sunday