Essen - Leverkusen

Germany: DFB Pokal
Essen O. Kefkir (108), S. Engelmann (117)
Stadion EssenAET2-1
Leverkusen L. Bailey (105)

Völler and Rolfes express support for Bosz following Pokal loss

By Peter Vice

Bayer 04 Leverkusen's unexpected loss to fourth-tier squad Rot-Weiß-Essen in Tuesday's Pokal fixture understandably leads some to question a few of of coach Peter Bosz's tactical decisions. 

On Thursday, club bosses Rudi Völler and Simon Rolfes made clear that they supported their current trainer. 

Rudi Völler.
Rudi Völler.Photo: Marco Verch, CC BY-SA 2.0

Matters have suddenly gone south for Germany's red company team. After blowing a late lead to German record champions Bayern München in the final league round before the Christmas break, die Werkself have slipped from second to fifth in the table. League form has been atrocious, with one win, four losses, and one draw in the intervening six rounds.

Bosz successfully avenged one of those losses--a 1-2 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in the 14th round--by beating the SGE in the second round of the Pokal ten days later. That victory now proves totally immaterial after the 2019/20 Pokal finalists were eliminated from this year's competition by a pro-am level squad.

Bosz made several questionable decisions. Three days after a formation featuring no strikers produced a total dud against Leipzig in the league, the Dutch trainer placed both Patrik Schick and Lucas Alario atop an unfamiliar 3-1-4-2 system. Additionally, he inserted a cold Exequiel Palacios to pull the strings in midfield and kept the recently returned from injury Charles Aranguiz on the pitch for the full 120 minutes.

Sporting director Simon Roles defended the decision to start Palacios on the basis that the Argentine "had trained very well" in the previous week. Rolfes and Sporting CEO Rudi Völler had little to say about Aranguiz's prolonged deployment, other than the fact that the failure of the team to put the game to bed led to the Chilean making the costly defensive error that ended up costing them the match.

"We created a lot of chances and should have led by halftime," Völler noted, "The formation was good. We had to take our chances."

Die Werkself did squander a plethora of opportunities to put the game beyond reach. Four efforts hit the framework before the side finally got the opening goal in the 105th minute. The RWE were able to complete an improbable comeback in the second period of added extra time thanks in large part to the fact that a slender advantage came far too little, far too late.

"When you score the first goal, you have to bring the game home with confident, well-organized, and structured possession," Rolfes complained.

"We'll have to put ourselves [in Bosz's] shoes," Völler added, "We let the opponent gain confidence, but I'll stick to my guns. We need to score more goals."

Rolfes and Völler correctly pointed out that, had the team been a bit more lucky with the early efforts, none of these tactical moves would be subject to scrutiny. If Bayer cannot find their way back to form befitting of their overall talent level, however, Bosz can expect more of it.

1Daniel Davari
21Sandro Plechaty ↩106
14Daniel Heber
24Alexander Hahn
3Felix Herzenbruch
7Kevin Grund ↩79
18Amara Condé ↩62
6Dennis Grote
5Marco Kehl-Gómez (C) ↩106
30Isiah Young ↩62
11Simon Engelmann
22Jakob Golz
9Marcel Platzek ↪106
38Oguzhan Kefkir ↪62
16Felix Weber
4Felix Backszat
8Cedric Harenbrock ↪106
10Jan-Lucas Dorow
29Jan Neuwirt ↪79
34Jonas Hildebrandt ↪62
1Lukáš Hradecky
24Timothy Fosu-Mensah
6Aleksandar Dragović
12Edmond Tapsoba
38Karim Bellarabi ↩43
20Charles Aránguiz (C)
10Kerem Demirbay
9Leon Bailey ↩114
25Exequiel Palacios ↩46
13Lucas Alario
14Patrik Schick ↩46
21Lennart Grill
36Niklas Lomb
19Moussa Diaby ↪43
5Sven Bender
16Tin Jedvaj
18Wendell ↪46
22Daley Sinkgraven
30Jeremie Frimpong ↪114
27Florian Wirtz ↪46

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