Jupp Heynckes sent out his starting eleven in Leverkusen's usual 4-2-2-2 shape, with the only change being the inclusion of Michal Kadlec in place of suspended full-back Daniel Schwaab.
Bayern Munich coach Louis van Gaal welcomed Mario Gomez back into his starting line-up today. The German international striker replaced fatigued forward Thomas Mueller, who was only able to earn a spot on the bench.
At the start of the match, the two technically gifted sides sought to control the midfield, and had the effect of cancelling one another's efforts. Leverkusen pressed high, forcing the visiting defenders into some harried passes. Bayern captain Mark van Bommel was called into action on numerous occasions, but either by tackling or simply running down the man with the ball, the Dutch enforcer was able to thwart his opponents' efforts.
On the other end, Leverkusen doubled up on the flanks, forcing the Bayern strikers to move out of their central positions in order to receive the ball. After skipping past Kadlec, Arjen Robben was denied a chance as his cross was superbly blocked by Gonzalo Castro. Moments later, Gomez did very well to dribble into the penalty area, but hooked his shot just wide of the left post.
As the half carried on, the visitors became the better side in possession, partly due to referee Knut Kircher's rather laissez-faire stance towards physical play. Leverkusen were good with the ball, but lost possession when met with robust tackles.
Even though they had trouble from free play, set piece experts Leverkusen were always going to be dangerous from dead ball situations. Surely enough, the hosts came ever so close to opening the scoring on 32 minutes, when Eren Derdiyok headed on Tranquillo Barnetta's cross, forcing Hans-Joerg Butt to make a save at full extension.
Six minutes later, Barnetta was left unmarked and took down a cross, but his shot careened off the outside of the right post. Thanks to superb defending by Leverkusen the visitors were completely unable to carve out any good attacks, and were forced to settle for a draw at the half.
No personnel changes were made at the interval, and play resumed as it had ended in the first half. Bayern sought to use width to free up space for Robben and Ribery. That strategy paid dividends on 51 minutes, when Ribery dribbled into the penalty area and was taken down by Castro as he sought to jink past the defender. Kircher whistled for a penalty, which Robben converted, making him Bayern's leading goalscorer in Bundesliga play.
Three minutes later, Rene Adler raced out to claim a long ball but, realising that he was outside the penalty area, had to let the ball bounce past him. Ribery was taken by surprise, and could not quite reach the ball before it travelled out of play.
Leverkusen's reaction was swift and deadly. After 57 minutes, Stefan Kiessling headed off the inside of the post, and the rebound deflected goalward off Butt's back. Much to the dismay of the hometown fans, the ball spiralled off the goal line before being cleared.
Still, the hosts would not be denied their equaliser. Seconds before the hour mark, Toni Kros whipped a free kick off the post, and the rebound caught Bayern's defenders flat-footed. Kiessling poked the ball into Arturo Vidal's path, and the Chilean midfielder fired in his first goal of the season.
As the match entered its final quarter of regular time, it became increasingly apparent that Bayern would only be able to succeed on breakaway opportunities. Leverkusen were absolutely unyielding on the wings, and were almost never caught overcommitting on the offensive end. Substitute Thomas Mueller played a gorgeous through ball to Robben on 68 minutes, but the Dutch winger's shot was well saved by Adler.
Leverkusen were much better in attack than their guests, and were only halted by a number of rash challenges and a bit of poor luck. Kroos came close to scoring the winner for Heynckes' side after collecting a fortunate deflection, but like Barnetta before, he missed wide.
With Bayern on their heels, Van Bommel committed a downright despicable foul on Derdiyok, taking a stride directly onto the Swiss striker's lower leg. The Dutch captain somehow escaped with only a yellow card.
Drama struck at the death when Martin Demichelis nearly cost his team a somewhat fortunate point. The Argentine defender's back-pass was far too weak, giving time for Derdiyok to reach the ball ahead of Butt. The Bayern goalkeeper was fast off his line, and did just enough to block Derdiyok's effort.
Late in injury time, Robben skipped towards the byline and crossed, allowing chaos to ensue in Adler's penalty area. Mueller skilfully passed towards himself, and as he was about to volley, was pulled back by Hans Sarpei. The veteran defender was clever, tugging just enough to throw the young German off his balance, while also appearing innocent to the referee. A few seconds later, the final whistle blew, and the two teams shared the spoils.
Become a fan of Goal.com International on Facebook! Just click onto Facebook.com/Goal to join the beautiful game's leading fan community...