Germany: Bundesliga
4 - 0
(1 - 0)
Union Berlin
Á. Grimaldo (23), K. Odilon (57), J. Tah (73), N. Tella (83)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Hofmann and Xhaka after latest win: "We wanted to stand up and show everyone."

Leverkusen stars Jonas Hofmann and Granit Xhaka were quick to declare what - by Leverkusen's recent standards - counted as a "mini-slump" over following Sunday's victory over 1. FC Union Berlin.
Some uncharacteristic errors from the Bundesliga's midfield giant Granit Xhaka, combined with a less-than-stellar narrow victory in the Europa League midweek, left some German football watchers wondering if league-leaders Bayer 04 Leverkusen might be poised for a dip. Speaking after Sunday's 4-0 defeat of 1. FC Union Berlin, B04 attacker Jonas Hofmann let it be known that he had been reading some of the press commentaries.

"It felt like many expected us to stumble today," Hofmann told his interviewer from German broadcaster DAZN, "We coped well. We wanted to stand up and show everyone. We kept control of most of the game, kept the pressure on, were outstanding in our counter pressing, and made life easier for ourselves.

Xhaka concurred with Hofmann's assessment.

"Our counter-pressing is excellent," the Swiss international added, "We were brutally compact off the ball. We don't allow much. This helps the attack, which has plenty of freedom in the last 30 meters. You see that every weekend."

Both Hofmann and Xhaka conceded that the team does have some defensive issues. Marking was sometimes suspect on the few set-piece plays Leverkusen conceded. Xabi Alonso's Werkself are known to be among the most impressive teams in the league off dead-balls offensively (two goals came off corners in Sunday's win), yet not the best when it comes to defending set-plays.

"Defensively, we need to improve somewhat," Hofmann also said, "The importance of set-pieces [on both sides of the ball] can decide games. Xabi [and staff] always prepare us with good variations."

"Excellent to lead the league through the international break," Xhaka added, "but we must not succumb to dreams or be influenced by outside factors. We have to keep our feet on the ground and continue to work hard. We'll then see where we stand. We are still on the right track."

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