The highly anticipated matchup between first-place Bayern Munich and fifth-place Bayer Leverkusen failed to live up to the hype on Saturday. Both teams had a difficult time creating chances in what was an extremely physical affair, and the spoils were ultimately shared at the end of the day
The first half was largely dictated by Leverkusen's aggressive tackling and high-pressure defense, and Bayern had trouble establishing meaningful possession as a result. In the twentieth minute Kingsley Coman used his speed to burst past Jonathan Tah but Leno intercepted the cross and put it behind for a corner. Meanwhile, at the other end of the pitch, Hasan Çalhanoğlu headed Leverkusen's best opportunity right into Manuel Neuer's arms. Although Leverkusen successfully disrupted Bayern's passing game in the first forty-five minutes, they never mounted a genuine threat on Neuer's goal.
Both teams made substitutions early in the second half in an effort to tip the match in their favor, with Tiago Alcantara replacing Arturo Vidal and Roberto Hilberto replacing Tin Jedvaj. Arjen Robben appeared to break away in the fifty-fifth minute, but an excellent last-ditch tackle from Wendell prevented the Dutchman from putting a shot on target. Bayern's increasing emphasis on wing play almost paid dividends with about twenty-five minutes to play, but substitute Thomas Müller uncharacteristically squandered two excellent chances in quick succession, launching both of his shots over the crossbar after both Coman and Costa found him with excellent crosses.
Bayern started asking questions of the Leverkusen defense with about fifteen minutes left to play, but they ultimately failed to find a breakthrough. In the eighty-third minute, Robert Lewandowski failed to capitalize on what was arguable Bayern's best chance of the game, but pressure from the defenders forced his shot just wide of the post. Moments later, a second yellow card to Xabi Alonso for a late challenge on Chicarito left Bayern shorthanded in midfield, and Coman was sacrificed for Sebastian Röde.
Both teams put on strong defensive performances, and Holger Badstuber and Joshua Kimmich once again demonstrated their ability to work together at the back for Bayern. One must wonder if Müller or Lewandowski would have put away their chances on another day. In any case, the teams ended the day as they began it: with a twenty-one-point gap between them.