"If you have the ambition and quality, we count on you and give you the chance to develop. With development, there is also performance. That's why it's a great story for Florian but also for us as a club," Simon Rolfes told Stats Perform.

Bayer Leverkusen had money to splash after Chelsea paid a club-record fee to prise German star Kai Havertz from BayArena at the start of 2020-21. His absence was supposed to leave a glaring hole in North Rhine-Westphalia and prompt a frantic search in the transfer market.

But sporting director Rolfes and Leverkusen had other ideas. Rather than use the money recouped in the blockbuster Havertz transfer, Die Werkself opted to look in their own backyard for a replacement – 18-year-old teenage sensation Florian Wirtz.

Leverkusen's faith in youth and their clearly defined philosophy has served them well previously, and they're being rewarded once again by the club's latest wonderkid, who has put Havertz well and truly in the rear-view mirror as Europe's elite queue for his signature.

At home in the number 10 role behind a striker or even as a deep-lying playmaker, Wirtz can do it all on the pitch – as next opponents Bayern Munich may find out on Sunday.

Leverkusen prised Wirtz from Cologne in 2020. Dubbed "the best midfielder to come through the club in 30 years" by local newspaper Kolner Express, Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Liverpool were all circling after Wirtz captained boyhood team Cologne to Under-17 German Championship glory in 2019, but Leverkusen eventually won the race.

Rolfes had first watched Wirtz at the age of 13. He was immediately mesmerised by the Brauweiler-born sensation, who has firmly established himself in the Leverkusen XI, quickly becoming the new face of Die Werkself.

 

From his junior days, Wirtz has been great at exploiting gaps and creating space in midfield while churning out goalscoring chances with his devastating awareness. Not to mention his defence-splitting passing ability. Five years on and nothing has changed on the international stage.

"Extraordinary player," Rolfes told Stats Perform prior to the international break, after which Leverkusen now prepare to face champions Bayern in a top-of-the-table Bundesliga clash. "I saw him the first time when he was 13 and followed him all the time. Spoke with him before he moved to us, with the parents a lot of times and tried to convince them that it was the right step to come to us and accelerate his development. I and the whole club are very happy that he is with us. That's the interesting thing, I watched him the first time at 13 and he is still playing the same. 14,15, 16, always in that kind of style."

When a player breaks a record held by Havertz at Leverkusen, it is a sign to sit up and take notice.

Wirtz was swiftly thrust into the first team, becoming Leverkusen's youngest-ever debutant at the age of 17 years and 16 days, eclipsing Havertz's record, in last season's 4-1 rout of Werder Bremen in 2019-20. After a handful of appearances in the coronavirus-hit campaign, Wirtz played 29 Bundesliga games, which yielded five goals and as many assists in the post-Havertz era in 2020-21. In February 2021, Wirtz became the first player in the league's history to score five goals before celebrating his 18th birthday.

So, when it comes to comparing Wirtz to Havertz through their first 42 Bundesliga appearances with Leverkusen, how do they stack up against each other?

Wirtz has an equal split between goals and assists (10 each), averaging his 20 goal involvements once every 148 minutes across his top-flight career so far. That's quicker than Havertz managed at the same stage of his Bundesliga career, with his 16 goal involvements in his first 42 apps coming at an average of 165 minutes.

Wirtz also proved a shade more productive in front of goal, with an expected goals per 90 average of 0.16 compared to Havertz's 0.14, but the now-Chelsea forward was able to get more involved in the average game with 65 touches per 90 compared to Wirtz's 58 per 90.

"I wouldn't say they're similar. They're for sure similar in terms of extraordinary qualities and potential for really big careers," Rolfes said. "I would say at the end, Kai plays a little bit more forward and is very good in going deep with a lot of speed. Sometimes it doesn’t look like it because he is so tall but he is incredibly fast. Very direct, fantastic shot with his left foot and a good header. With his height, a very good header of the ball.

"With Florian, I think from a positional sense he is a little bit deeper. More technique in small spaces I would say. Kai likes to use his speed. They are quite different. They unfortunately only played/trained half a year together. It would be nice to have them both together in the squad at the moment because one right foot, one left. They would fit very good together."

With so much attention from a very young age, it is easy for some players to get swept up amid the hype and interest. Not Wirtz.

Wirtz has continued to shatter records and dazzle in the Bundesliga. Against Mainz on matchday six of this season, the Germany international became the youngest player to score 10 goals in Germany’s top-flight, doing so 208 days younger than Lukas Podolski (18 years, 353 days for Cologne in 2004).

No player in the Bundesliga this season has more assists than Wirtz (five) through seven rounds.

With four league goals in just six appearances, he is already only one goal shy of matching last season's haul, despite an expected goals (xG) goal value of 1.0 – no other player has such a large difference between his goals and expected goals.

His nine goal involvements in this season's Bundesliga are only surpassed by Dortmund star Erling Haaland (10), while Wirtz has the best shot conversion rate (36.4 per cent) among all players with at least three goals in 2021-22.

As Wirtz goes from prospect to genuine star, it all comes down to his mindset.

"The attitude is very good. With players and we could see it with Kai Havertz, they know their quality. They are 18 and self-confident because they know about their quality. Special players have that – they can feel that, feel it directly on the pitch. Playing with other good players, they're able to handle it and adapt to the different speed of the game," said Rolfes.

"In that case, they are quite far [developed] and they know there's interest in them because also with 14, 15, 16 it's normal big clubs watched him play. With Florian and Kai, it's quite the same. They always know they’re interesting and extraordinary players."

In all competitions in 2021-22, Wirtz (11) is the only player in Europe's big-five leagues 18 or younger to be involved in seven or more goals, having already found the back of the net twice in the Europa League.

 

Wirtz has been involved in a goal across all competitions every 47 minutes so far this term – at least up until the international break, it was the best rate of all players in Europe's top five leagues with at least 500 minutes, ahead of Haaland (51 mins), Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (52 mins), Bayern talisman Robert Lewandowski (60 mins) and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah (65 mins).

"In the youth teams, the difference in the quality between him and others was much higher. The game in the youth is around them. Now, he also has a big influence on the game, but he has to position himself better to get the ball and use his quality. Players with extraordinary quality have the ability to find the right spaces but in professional teams they have to wait a little bit in their position and then use their quality," former Leverkusen midfielder Rolfes said. "Compared to the youth where they are doing everything."

It's a frightening thought when you remember Wirtz only celebrated his 18th birthday in May and consider how much growth there is to come from Leverkusen’s prized asset.

Despite being so young, Wirtz is already important in Leverkusen's attacking production – he's been involved in 26 open-play attacking sequences in the Bundesliga this season, with only two players at the club involved in more. Of those 26, 12 have come as the creator of the chance, which is more than any Leverkusen team-mate.

"He will improve year by year. Although he already has a high level. His biggest strength and you could see that in all the years in the youth team, is that he gives his best in each game," added Rolfes. "Doesn't matter where he was playing or which team-mates he was playing with. The first team, U19, U13 etc, he was always giving his best. That is a key element in his development that he is able to adapt at higher levels but he has ambition to always improve and you have to improve.

"Sometimes improvement is also a little bit about changing your game. For sure the opponents want to defend him and watch him, so improvement is sometimes changing a little bit. I'm totally convinced he will have a great career because he has the right mindset to develop. If he keeps that, he is 18 and young, it's a really young guy and he has strengthen his personality etc – that’s normal. We all know how we've been at 18 but if he keeps his mindset and development, he will have a fantastic career."

"If you have the ambition and quality, we count on you and give you the chance to develop. With development, there is also performance. That's why it's a great story for Florian but also for us as a club," Simon Rolfes told Stats Perform.

Bayer Leverkusen had money to splash after Chelsea paid a club-record fee to prise German star Kai Havertz from BayArena at the start of 2020-21. His absence was supposed to leave a glaring hole in North Rhine-Westphalia and prompt a frantic search in the transfer market.

But sporting director Rolfes and Leverkusen had other ideas. Rather than use the money recouped in the blockbuster Havertz transfer, Die Werkself opted to look in their own backyard for a replacement – 18-year-old teenage sensation Florian Wirtz.

Leverkusen's faith in youth and their clearly defined philosophy has served them well previously, and they're being rewarded once again by the club's latest wonderkid, who has put Havertz well and truly in the rear-view mirror as Europe's elite queue for his signature.

At home in the number 10 role behind a striker or even as a deep-lying playmaker, Wirtz can do it all on the pitch.

Leverkusen prised Wirtz from Cologne in 2020. Dubbed "the best midfielder to come through the club in 30 years" by local newspaper Kolner Express, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Liverpool were all circling after Wirtz captained boyhood team Cologne to Under-17 German Championship glory in 2019, but Leverkusen eventually won the race.

Rolfes had first watched Wirtz at the age of 13. He was immediately mesmerised by the Brauweiler-born sensation, who has firmly established himself in the Leverkusen XI, quickly becoming the new face of Die Werkself.

 

From his junior days, Wirtz has been great at exploiting gaps and creating space in midfield while churning out goalscoring chances with his devastating awareness. Not to mention his defence-splitting passing ability. Five years on and nothing has changed on the international stage.

"Extraordinary player," Rolfes told Stats Perform. "I saw him the first time when he was 13 and followed him all the time. Spoke with him before he moved to us, with the parents a lot of times and tried to convince them that it was the right step to come to us and accelerate his development. I and the whole club are very happy that he is with us. That's the interesting thing, I watched him the first time at 13 and he is still playing the same. 14,15, 16, always in that kind of style."

When a player breaks a record held by Kai at Leverkusen, it is a sign to stand up and take notice.

Wirtz was swiftly thrust into the first team, becoming Leverkusen's youngest-ever debutant at the age of 17 years and 16 days, eclipsing Havertz's record, in last season's 4-1 rout of Werder Bremen in 2019-20. After a handful of appearances in the coronavirus-hit campaign, Wirtz played 29 Bundesliga games, which yielded five goals and as many assists in the post-Havertz era in 2020-21. In February 2021, Wirtz became the first player in the league's history to score five goals before celebrating his 18th birthday.

So, when it comes to comparing Wirtz to Havertz through their first 42 Bundesliga appearances with Leverkusen, how do they stack up against each other?

Wirtz has an equal split between goals and assists (10 each), averaging his 20 goal involvements once every 148 minutes across his top-flight career so far. That's quicker than Havertz managed at the same stage of his Bundesliga career, with his 16 goal involvements in his first 42 apps coming at an average of 165 minutes.

Wirtz also proved a shade more productive in front of goal, with an expected goals per 90 average of 0.16 compared to Havertz's 0.14, but the now-Chelsea forward was able to get more involved in the average game with 65 touches per 90 compared to Wirtz's 58 per 90.

"I wouldn't say they're similar. They're for sure similar in terms of extraordinary qualities and potential for really big careers," Rolfes said. "I would say at the end, Kai plays a little bit more forward and is very good in going deep with a lot of speed. Sometimes it doesn’t look like it because he is so tall but he is incredibly fast. Very direct, fantastic shot with his left foot and a good header. With his height, a very good header of the ball.

"With Florian, I think from a positional sense he is a little bit deeper. More technique in small spaces I would say. Kai likes to use his speed. They are quite different. They unfortunately only played/trained half a year together. It would be nice to have them both together in the squad at the moment because one right foot, one left. They would fit very good together."

With so much attention from a very young age, it is easy for some players to get swept up amid the hype and interest. Not Wirtz.

Wirtz has continue to shatter records and dazzle in the Bundesliga. Against Mainz on matchday six of this season, the Germany international became the youngest player to score 10 goals in Germany’s top-flight, doing so 208 days younger than Lukas Podolski (18 years, 353 days for Cologne in 2004).

No player in the Bundesliga this season has more assists than Wirtz (five) through seven rounds.

With four league goals in just six appearances, he is already only one goal shy of matching last season's haul, despite an expected goals (xG) goal value of 1.0 – no other player has such a large difference between his goals and expected goals.

His nine goal involvements in this season's Bundesliga are only surpassed by Dortmund star Erling Haaland (10), while Wirtz has the best shot conversion rate (36.4 per cent) among all players with at least three goals in 2021-22.

As Wirtz goes from prospect to genuine star, it all comes down to his mindset.

"The attitude is very good. With players and we could see it with Kai Havertz, they know their quality. They are 18 and self-confident because they know about their quality. Special players have that – they can feel that, feel it directly on the pitch. Playing with other good players, they're able to handle it and adapt to the different speed of the game," said Rolfes.

"In that case, they are quite far [developed] and they know there's interest in them because also with 14, 15, 16 it's normal big clubs watched him play. With Florian and Kai, it's quite the same. They always know they’re interesting and extraordinary players."

In all competitions in 2021-22, Wirtz (11) is the only player in Europe's big-five leagues 18 or younger to be involved in seven or more goals, having already found the back of the net twice in the Europa League.

 

Wirtz has been involved in a goal across all competitions every 47 minutes so far this term – it is the best ratio of minutes per goal involvement of all players in Europe's top-five leagues with at least 500 minutes, ahead of Haaland (51 mins), Real Madrid's Karim Benzema (52 mins), Bayern talisman Robert Lewandowski (60 mins) and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah (65 mins).

"In the youth teams, the difference in the quality between him and others was much higher. The game in the youth is around them. Now, he also has a big influence on the game, but he has to position himself better to get the ball and use his quality. Players with extraordinary quality have the ability to find the right spaces but in professional teams they have to wait a little bit in their position and then use their quality," former Leverkusen midfielder Rolfes said. "Compared to the youth where they are doing everything."

It's a frightening thought when you remember Wirtz only celebrated his 18th birthday in May and how much growth there is to come from Leverkusen’s prized asset.

Despite being so young, Wirtz is already important in Leverkusen's attacking production – he's been involved in 26 open-play attacking sequences in the Bundesliga this season, with only two players at the club involved in more. Of those 26, 12 have come as the creator of the chance, which is more than any Leverkusen team-mate.

"He will improve year by year. Although he already has a high level. His biggest strength and you could see that in all the years in the youth team, is that he gives his best in each game," added Rolfes. "Doesn't matter where he was playing or which team-mates he was playing with. The first team, U19, U13 etc, he was always giving his best. That is a key element in his development that he is able to adapt at higher levels but he has ambition to always improve and you have to improve.

"Sometimes improvement is also a little bit about changing your game. For sure the opponents want to defend him and watch him, so improvement is sometimes changing a little bit. I'm totally convinced he will have a great career because he has the right mindset to develop. If he keeps that, he is 18 and young, it's a really young guy and he has strengthen his personality etc – that’s normal. We all know how we've been at 18 but if he keeps his mindset and development, he will have a fantastic career."

After another busy off-season at Bayer Leverkusen, many would have tipped a slow start with a new face in the dugout.

With Peter Bosz relieved of his duties, Simon Rolfes and Leverkusen turned to Gerardo Seoane on the back of three consecutive Swiss Super League titles at the helm of Young Boys.

Star winger Leon Bailey also headlined the departures at BayArena, a year on from Kai Havertz's big-money move to Chelsea. Factor in major international tournaments prior to the 2021-22 campaign – Euro 2020, the Copa America and the Olympic Games – and it made for a challenging pre-season.

But Leverkusen have hit the ground running in the Bundesliga – a 4-0 rout of Borussia Monchengladbach and wins over Augsburg (4-1), Stuttgart (3-1) and Mainz (1-0) helping Die Werkself to second place through six games, three points behind leaders and champions Bayern Munich.

Leverkusen sporting director Rolfes told Stats Perform: "We're happy with the start of the season because it was a difficult summer for us but also the other teams who have a lot of international players. This summer with the Copa America, Euros, Olympic Games... there were a lot of players from us involved. A player from us won the Copa America and Olympics, so only the Euros we missed.

"That's why the pre-season was really difficult. The players step in, week by week, and I think one week before the start of the season, we had our final squad together. The transfer market due to coronavirus was also very different and late. That's why I'm very happy. We had good opponents."

"We were not happy with the last season," said Rolfes, whose Leverkusen finished sixth in 2020-21 while losing in the DFB-Pokal last 16 and Europa League round of 32. "A very good start but the end was difficult. We reached international competition okay, but we are ambitious and want more this season. You can imagine the Champions League is a big goal but also the DFB-Pokal and Europa League to go further.

"What's very important for our club is development. One thing is performance and also the result at the end of the season, but development is very important. Develop the players, make them better. Then we have the chance to also perform today in the best way. We have a lot of young players – we want to develop them to their best level. That's also good for the performance today."

 

Seoane's 13 points after six Bundesliga matches represent the best record of any Leverkusen head coach since Sami Hyypia (15) in 2013. For the North Rhine-Westphalia outfit, it is their best start to a top-flight season since 2019-20 (also 13), while they have only scored more goals after six matches in 2008-09 (18) than in the current campaign (16).

Leverkusen have exceeded their expected goals (xG) tally by almost eight goals this Bundesliga campaign – 7.7 (16 goals at 8.3 xG), a league best.

"One important point is football knowledge," Rolfes replied when asked what attracted Leverkusen to 42-year-old Swiss coach Seoane. "Also the leadership, that's very interesting. The leadership of the group as a head coach is very important. If you're in training, the assistant coaches can do things. If you don't feel so comfortable or don't have so many qualities, you can find the right team.

"The leadership as a head coach, you must have. That's a big strength, besides the football knowledge he has. He speaks six different languages – very good for an international squad to speak with the players in their language. That helps a lot to get the right connection to take them on their way and development."

Under Seoane, Leverkusen play a more patient brand of football, allowing their opposition more time on the ball in the Bundesliga rather than consistently pressing high up the field.

Through the first six games last season, Leverkusen allowed 11.1 passes per defensive action, compared to 12.2 with Seoane in charge, as Leverkusen look to instead create counter-attacks from deeper positions – their averaging starting distance at 38.6 metres from their own goal, compared to 42.2m previously. Their 17 direct attacks this term dwarf last year's six at the same stage.

Leverkusen recorded 8.7 high turnovers per match through six rounds last season, compared to 5.3 this time around, but they have scored four goals from such situations already in the Bundesliga – at least twice as many as any other side and more than any other team in Europe's top five leagues in 2021-22. They actually had fewer goals (three) from high turnovers after six games last time out, proving more ruthless this term.

Still, Leverkusen's philosophy remains the same, despite a new coach and altered approach, and it will continue to be the case with Seoane and beyond under Rolfes.

"We choose players, signing as a club," Rolfes said as he discussed the need to adopt a clear vision, instead of changing philosophy with every coach. "We sign the players for a specific style to get the most out of the squad, the player and to develop them in the best way. If you play in the totally other direction than you want to develop the players, you will not succeed. That's important to have a clear vision as a club. How you want to play and then choose the right coach in the best case.

"Every head coach of a pro team has their specific style. That's not the problem, but the main direction has to be clear. That's my task at the end to choose the right coach for the main direction. And then, the individual approach or quality of the coach, it's important you get something fresh in the club, team. The main direction is important and the club has to define the vision."

Leverkusen are one of Germany's biggest clubs, but not since the 1993 DFB-Pokal have they celebrated silverware.

They have come close on numerous occasions in the Bundesliga – runners-up in 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2001-02 and 2010-11 – while they also reached the 2001-02 Champions League final, succumbing to Real Madrid and Zinedine Zidane's iconic volley in Glasgow. There were Pokal final appearances in 2001-02, 2008-09 and 2019-20, too.

But an exciting and entertaining Leverkusen, even in the post-Havertz era, are on the right track amid Bayern's domestic and European dominance.

And that is thanks to teenage sensation Florian Wirtz.

The 18-year-old prodigy has continued to shine, filling the huge void left by countryman Havertz, amid rave reviews from across Europe.

Wirtz, who was prised from boyhood club Cologne last year, is the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach 10 goals.

Leverkusen's Wirtz has already been directly involved in eight Bundesliga goals (four goals, four assists) in 292 minutes across the first six matchdays in 2021-22. Only Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland has had more direct goal involvements this term than the teenager.

Since Opta's detailed data collection began in 2004-05, only Patrick Helmes in 2008-09 and Stefan Kiessling in 2013-14 had previously registered as many direct goal involvements for Leverkusen after the first six matches to a Bundesliga season

Setting the standard across Europe, the new face of Leverkusen averages 37 minutes per goal involvement, which ranks best among players in the top five leagues (minimum 100 minutes played), ahead of Madrid superstar Karim Benzema (41 minutes). The 34-year-old Frenchman is the only one of those players to have exceeded his xG by a larger margin (4.8) than Wirtz (3.2) this season.

Already capped three times at international level, Wirtz has scored in four straight games, including Leverkusen's Europa League win against Ferencvaros on matchday one.

 

As Wirtz soars to new heights, Leverkusen are reaping the rewards of a unified philosophy and their faith in the midfielder.

"I think it's a real good example of how the club is working and how the club is thinking," Rolfes, who made almost 400 appearances for Leverkusen between 2005 and 2015, said. "The situation with Kai and Florian. Florian was here or came in the winter [of 2020] and made eight appearances after the lockdown with the first team. Then at the end of the [2019-20] season, Kai went to Chelsea.

"For sure, we got a lot of money for Kai, but we decided to focus on Florian Wirtz for the number 10 position. We don't sign any player as a replacement for Kai. For sure, we had some money to spend on an experienced player in the number 10 position, but we didn't do that. We said okay, the young guy will be the future and has the potential to replace or play very good in that position. We have him already in the club, so we trust him and try to develop him. That's why we sign players in other positions, where we needed improvement.

"That was a big sign for the player and for the chance you have as a young player in Leverkusen. If you have the ambition and quality, we count on you and give you the chance to develop. With development, there is also performance. That's why it's a great story for Florian but also for us as a club."

Wirtz's exploits have not gone unnoticed, however, with Bayern reportedly trying to sign the Germany international, while the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal have also been linked.

But Leverkusen have no plans to sell as Rolfes – who first watched Wirtz as a 13-year-old – added: "He has a long contract until 2026. We do not have to sell players early. We want to develop him, develop our team and club with him.

"So, there are rumours, okay. You cannot avoid that, but it's not our goal to sell him. The players at one time or point in their career make the next step to world-class level, that's okay for us, but not too early. He is a really young player. That was also with Kai – he was also extraordinary and some years with us and then maybe there's the next step. But not too early.

In February, Leverkusen extended their partnership with Stats Perform for the use of Edge Analysis – the most sophisticated football match preparation tool available.

Powered by tracking and event data, Edge Analysis applies unique AI models to unlock objective, dynamic and predictive insights to enhance pre and post-match analysis processes, delivering unique performance insights on all upcoming opponents. The platform uses over 100 AI-driven KPIs to deliver eight unique patented AI models, delivering objective insights within seconds, all linked to video.

"Data/sport technology is very important for us because I think there's huge potential in the future," Rolfes said of the deal. "Data will be better and better because the cameras/GPS tracking provides more precise data.

"We have now not only data in the computer and no one has the time to analyse it, we have the tools with AI, and find the right KPIs for you. That's very important for the match preparation and for the scouting process to be fast, really precise. That's why we invest in that topic here. That's through partnership and investing in our staff to get knowledge, to develop because, at the moment, we are only at the beginning. That's why you have to invest, to be a pioneer or leader in that topic."

Bayern Munich's merciless 12-0 demolition of Bremer in the DFB-Pokal left the minnows' player-coach Sebastien Kmiec watching with "one eye crying and one eye lit up".

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting hit four goals as a strong Bayern side that included Thomas Muller, Leroy Sane and Joshua Kimmich tore apart their fifth-tier opponents with "brutal" efficiency.

Bayern had 37 shots, which is the most they have had since also having 37 in a Bundesliga clash with Darmstadt in February 2016, a game in which the Bavarian giants came from behind at the interval to seal a 3-1 win.

There were no such difficulties this time, with Wednesday's deadly dozen capped by Colentin Tolisso late on.

The French midfielder had a team-high nine goal attempts and got his reward last of all by grabbing the 12th goal in the 88th minute.

Jamal Musiala also grabbed a double as Bayern put their foot down and crushed Bremer beneath their might.

Kmiec, who is an assistant to head coach Benjamin Eta, played the first 58 minutes and departed the scene with Bremer 7-0 in arrears.

"The quality is brutal, of course. We had very little to counter with. We didn't get into the 50-50s and just ran after every ball," Kmiec said, quoted on Bayern's website.

"You see it with one eye crying and one eye lit up, because it's just brutal.

"They made substitutions, but even the ones who came on wanted to put themselves forward and played their part.

"Here on the pitch you can see how fast they are, but also how quickly they think. You just have to say: outstanding."

 

Bayern had an 89.9 per cent passing accuracy and 68 per cent of possession against their outclassed hosts at the Weserstadion. That is now Werder Bremen's home, but was once shared by Bremer.

Bremer substituted goalkeeper Malte Seemann after 70 minutes, giving deputy Ole Bahr the final 20 minutes against the rampant Bundesliga champions. The score moved on from 8-0 to 12-0 after the switch.

In the face of Bayern's brilliance, Seemann was determined not to be deflated, labelling the game as "unbelievable" and "an indescribable feeling".

Seemann even added: "It was fun. Our boys were great and the Bayern players were all nice. That's something we'll remember."

Julian Nagelsmann insisted there is more to come from Jamal Musiala following the teenager's brace in Bayern Munich's 12-0 DFB-Pokal demolition of Bremer.

Musiala scored twice on his first start of the season as Bundesliga champions Bayern put 12 past their helpless fifth-tier opponents at the Weserstadion on Wednesday.

The 18-year-old brilliantly executed a neat one-two with four-goal star Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for his opener, while rifling home a 20-yard thunderbolt for his second just after half-time.

Germany sensation Musiala carried a constant threat with his pace and ball retention down the right flank, and would have claimed a hat-trick had his goal-bound first-half shot not been turned over his own line by Jan-Luca Warm.

Bayern head coach Nagelsmann is certainly excited by what the academy graduate has to offer.

"Jamal is incredibly good in possession, but there's more to him," Nagelsmann told the official club website post-match after Bayern secured their second-highest winning margin in all competitions since their promotion to the Bundesliga in 1965 – they defeated DJK Waldberg 16-1 in the DFB-Pokal.

"There's a lot of potential in Jamal. The way he handles the ball; it does seem as if he has magnets in his boots. 

"He's got great quality. No doubt, this is a very talented 18-year-old."

Nagelsmann also hailed the performance levels of Leroy Sane, who scored a goal for the German giants and provided seven key passes including two assists.

One of four survivors in a much-changed side from Sunday's win over Cologne, the former Manchester City attacker also successfully completed 30 of his 38 attempted passes.

"He was super involved; he defended extremely well and scored a goal," Nagelsmann added.

"I think he could have scored three more if other players had passed the ball to him; he was in a very good position several times. 

"What some people accuse him of doing is not going to the limit, but today it was really obvious that he went to the limit. He gave it his all and I'm super happy."

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting scored four times as Bayern Munich launched their DFB-Pokal campaign with an emphatic 12-0 rout of Bremer.

Jamal Musiala grabbed a brace while Malik Tillman, Leroy Sane, Michael Cuisance, Bouna Sarr and Corentin Tolisso were also on target as Julian Nagelsmann’s side eased through to the second round of the competition.

On top of his four goals, Choupo-Moting also provided assists for Musiala and Sarr on a miserable day for fifth-tier Bremer, who had Ugo Nobile sent off later on.

For Bayern, it was the second-highest margin of victory in their history after a 16-1 thrashing of Waldberg in 1997.

Though much-changed by Nagelsmann, Bayern never looked in danger of suffering only a second defeat in 24 competitive matches against sides below Germany's top three divisions.

Just eight minutes had passed when Sane's cutback was fired in off the underside of the crossbar by Choupo-Moting, who turned provider in the 16th minute with a neat lay-off for Musiala to slot home.

That same combination unlocked Bremer once more 11 minutes later, with Jan-Luca Warm turning Musiala's shot over his own goal line.

Choupo-Moting tapped in his second as the hosts were caught out from the subsequent kick-off, before completing his hat-trick with a 35th-minute header from close range.

Bayern picked up from where they left off with two goals within three minutes of the restart. Substitute Tillman pounced on poor play before slotting home, while Musiala rifled in his second less than 60 seconds later.

Sane got in on the act in the 65th minute, before Nobile was sent off for dragging back Tillman as he raced into the box.

Four goals followed in the final 10 minutes. Cuisance and Choupo-Moting took the visitors' tally into double figures, while further strikes from Sarr and Tolisso completed the rout.

What does it mean? Bayern breeze through

On the front foot from the very start, Bayern endured little difficulty as they progressed to the second round of the competition for the 27th consecutive season.

You must go back to August 1994 for the last time they fell at the first hurdle, going down 1-0 against third-tier Vestenbergsgreuth.

Choupo-Moting proves his worth

With Robert Lewandowski rested, Choupo-Moting was handed a rare opportunity to lead the line and build some momentum.

The Cameroon international did not let Nagelsmann down with four goals, while providing five key passes including three assists.

Muller struggles to make an impact

One of four surviving players from Sunday's win over Cologne, Muller was handed the captain's armband by Nagelsmann.

However, the Germany international only managed 25 touches and completed 12 passes before he was substituted at half-time.

What's next?

Bayern return to Bundesliga action on Saturday as they welcome Hertha Berlin to the Allianz Arena, while Bremer travel to Leher in the Bremen-Liga next Thursday.

Bayern Munich coach Julian Nagelsmann has credited his predecessor Hansi Flick with the team's success in the DFL-Supercup.

Bayern beat Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at Signal Iduna Park, Robert Lewandowski scoring twice against his old club either side of Thomas Muller's simple finish and a sensational strike from Marco Reus.

It sealed Bayern's ninth Supercup win in total, and their second in a row after they beat the same opponents in 2020, under then-coach Flick, who left the club at the end of last season.

Flick, now the Germany coach, led Bayern to two Bundesliga titles, the Champions League, a DFB-Pokal, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup – as well as the Supercup – during his 18-month spell, and was watching on from the stands as part of a limited-capacity but vociferous crowd on Tuesday.

For Nageslmann, the victory represents his first trophy as a coach. Indeed, the 34-year-old had only overseen one appearance in a final – RB Leipzig's 4-1 defeat to Dortmund in May.

Despite finally claiming silverware to get his Bayern tenure off to a strong start, Nagelsmann insisted the credit had to go to Flick and the players who claimed a ninth successive Bundesliga title in 2020-21.

"We thoroughly deserved to win. It's not easy against Dortmund with the attacking power that they have," Nagelsmann told Sat.1.

"The title is the reward for last season because we won the title. Not me, but Hansi Flick. The title belongs more to others than it does to me.

"I was forced by the boys to pick up the trophy, they picked me up a little – 'now you finally have a title too'."

Describing winning his first trophy and an eagerness for more, Nagelsmann stated he has "small hamster teeth", adding: "Everyone knows that this has a meaning, also for me. But also, for the dressing room.

"At Bayern there is pressure, you have to win games and win titles, so it was important."

 

Lewandowski was in imperious form on his old stomping ground, converting the two big chances that came his way in clinical fashion – his first goal a fantastic header, his second a cool finish following Manuel Akanji's mistake – as the Bayern star paid homage to one of German football's greats, Gerd Muller, who passed away over the weekend.

"It means a lot to me. It's the next title win for us," said Lewandowski, who broke Muller's record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga season last term.

"It's great for the fans to watch the game live. It's great for the team. We can enjoy it."

While Lewandowski starred at one end, Erling Haaland toiled to no avail at the other, though Dortmund's free-scoring forward was unfortunate to have a goal ruled out for offside.

Reus was the main threat for Marco Rose's team, with his three attempts and two key passes leading the way.

"It was an unnecessary defeat. Bayern had their chances, we knew they would," said Dortmund's captain.

"There was no faulting our energy levels and passion, but titles have a habit of ending up at Bayern."

Bayern Munich were not the biggest club in their own city, let alone the country, when Gerd Muller signed in 1964.

The Bavarians' major trophy haul at that time consisted of a single league championship in 1932 and a maiden DFB-Pokal success 25 years later. Muller joined a second-tier side.

On Tuesday, two days after the club great's passing, Bayern celebrated his life in fitting fashion with a record-extending ninth DFL-Supercup triumph – a competition they have to win silverware simply to enter.

The Bundesliga dominance, cup after cup and six European crowns... all that history can be traced back to Muller's decision to head for Bayern rather than rivals 1860 Munich.

He was there for the first four Bundesliga titles – the top scorer on each occasion – and for three European Cups in three years, Muller's standards slipping as Jupp Heynckes was the leading marksman in the third season.

In 15 years, the remarkable forward tallied 566 Bayern goals, a benchmark that stands to this day. Muller's Bundesliga total of 365 is also unsurpassed.

As those numbers show, breaking a Muller record is no simple task, but Robert Lewandowski finally did so last season when scoring 41 goals in a single Bundesliga campaign, edging beyond the legend's 40 in 1971-72.

"I achieved a goal that once seemed impossible to imagine," Lewandowski wrote on his Twitter page in May. "I'm so unbelievably proud to make history for Bayern, and to play a part in creating the stories that fans will tell their children – following in the footsteps of legends like Gerd Muller."

 

It made sense then for Lewandowski to be front and centre again at Signal Iduna Park as Muller was remembered.

He clutched a number nine shirt ahead of kick-off as a moment's silence broke into applause, the Borussia Dortmund fans recognising a legacy that goes beyond club lines.

It was a lovely tribute, but Muller would have been more familiar with Lewandowski's subsequent nods to his greatest predecessor.

Muller was the ultimate 18-yard box centre-forward, a mantle Lewandowski has taken on and exhibited expertly against his former side.

Manuel Neuer, another of the Bayern players carrying a Muller shirt, kept Dortmund at bay at one end – finishing with four saves – before his club's latest outstanding number nine showed Erling Haaland and BVB's team of young pretenders how it is done at the other.

"Lewandowski has proven over several years now that he is a world-class striker," coach Julian Nagelsmann said before the game. "Erling hasn't been in the league that long, although his scoring rate is great."

That proven Lewandowski class brought a brutal, brilliant opener, his header from Serge Gnabry's left-wing cross thumped into the bottom-left corner. The outcome of a chance that was worth a moderate 0.29 expected goals (xG) was never in doubt.

And Lewandowski was involved again, in the box again, when Bayern appeared to put the game beyond doubt four minutes after half-time, waving a leg towards Alphonso Davies' low cross in an attempt at a flick that ran instead for Thomas Muller's tap-in, the late Bayern superstar's namesake having been the third visiting player to hold up a red shirt in a pre-match show of respect.

Perhaps the linesman was a Gerd Muller fan, too, twice ruling in Bayern's favour when Youssoufa Moukoko and Haaland each ran away to score – the second call considerably closer than the first.

There was no ruling out a blistering Marco Reus strike, which briefly threatened Bayern's control, but Manuel Akanji's dallying let Lewandowski in again and the Dortmund fans know exactly how that tends to go. This time with an xG of 0.25 – merely the fifth-best chance of the match – the 32-year-old made it look routine.

A seventh Supercup strike, Lewandowski extended another record that is all his own – albeit in a competition Muller never graced.

The Poland international is Muller's nearest challenger in Bundesliga terms, with 278 goals, and deserves to be counted in such company, even if he has just added to Bayern's reputation rather than transformed it. Lewandowski has also now scored in 14 successive matches for Bayern, which means he needs to score in just two more consecutive games to match another of Muller's all-time records (16, in 1969-70).

Meanwhile, this was not Haaland's night, but he too could have one eye on the sort of standards Muller set. Still just 21, Haaland has 42 goals in 44 Bundesliga games – or one every 84.8 minutes – and Hasan Salihamidzic has acknowledged Bayern would be "amateurs" not to consider signing the striker.

Given the apparent inevitability of a transfer at the end of this campaign, the BVB sensation would seemingly have to join Germany's powerhouse to stay in the Bundesliga and close on Muller or Lewandowski.

Bayern do not need a replacement up front just yet, though, after their latest legend ensured 2021-22 would continue an almost constant theme since Muller broke all barriers, with silverware heading back to Bavaria.

Julian Nagelsmann claimed his first piece of silverware at Bayern Munich as Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller secured a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in the DFL-Supercup.

In a frantic encounter between the Bundesliga champions and DFB-Pokal winners at Signal Iduna Park, it was Bayern who defended their crown in the third straight Supercup meeting between the Klassiker rivals.

Lewandowski broke Gerd Muller's long-standing Bundesliga record of 40 goals in a single season with the final kick of 2020-21, and he fittingly opened the scoring two days after the Bayern great's passing.

Muller put Bayern in complete control and, though Marco Reus' stunner gave Dortmund hope, Lewandowski capitalised on Manuel Akanji's error to seal victory.

Dortmund were their own worst enemy from the off, with Serge Gnabry, Muller and Kingsley Coman all squandering gilt-edged chances after sloppy play from Marco Rose's team.

Yet it was Neuer who made the first save of the match. Hailed as "the best goalkeeper in the world" by Nagelsmann, the Bayern stalwart stuck out a leg to spectacularly deny Reus.

Dortmund were caught cold from a free-kick as the intensity continued, Lewandowski's effort blocked on the line by Axel Witsel.

Youssoufa Moukoko, the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history, thought he had nosed Dortmund ahead in the 36th minute only for the offside flag to halt his celebrations, before Neuer kept out Erling Haaland.

Bayern made their fortune count, Lewandowksi floating into the area to direct a thumping header beyond Gregor Kobel.

Lewandowski was involved again as, four minutes after the break, Bayern doubled their lead, the striker doing enough to prevent Kobel from collecting Alphonso Davies' cross, with Muller turning home.

Dortmund seemed to have an immediate lifeline when Haaland raced through and slotted home, but the offside flag again came to Bayern's rescue.

Bayern's lead was cut in sensational style after the hour, Reus curling a sumptuous first-time strike into the top-right corner.

Despite the backing of much of the limited-capacity crowd, Dortmund's comeback hopes fell flat 16 minutes from time as Corentin Tolisso pressured Akanji and Lewandowski picked up the scraps to round matters off.

Wolfsburg have been thrown out of the DFB-Pokal for making too many substitutions in a first-round win over Preussen Munster.

The sports court of the German Football Association (DFB) delivered their verdict on Monday, declaring Munster as 2-0 victors after Wolfsburg.

The fourth-tier side lodged their initial complaint a day after a 3-1 defeat to the Bundesliga team on August 8, stating that Mark van Bommel had sent on six substitutes instead of the allocated five.

Van Bommel brought on Admir Mehmedi for Maximilian Phillip in extra-time, with the match officials and Wolfsburg seemingly unaware he had already made five changes.

Announcing the sports court's decision on Monday, deputy chairman Stephan Oberholz commented: "The clubs are responsible for substitutions. One of their basic obligations is to find out about substitution options and to act accordingly.

"VfL Wolfsburg has a duty against this violated and thus frivolously and avoidably committed the central error in the inadmissible sixth substitution process.

"The club cannot invoke exonerating negligence on the part of the referee team. It can remain unanswered whether the fourth official advised those responsible at the club incorrectly or provided inaccurate information during the exchange process.

"Even if one assumes such wrong information, the main initial error is to be blamed on the club, so that any joint responsibility of the referee resigns completely."

Wolfsburg's sporting managing director Jorg Schmadtke joked after the error that those involved would be enrolled on a "basic reading course" but the 2015 DFB-Pokal winners are expected to submit a further appeal after Monday's verdict.

Schmadtke's main query centres around the match officials, who Wolfsburg claim were asked several times for clarification on the substitution quota.

In contrast, Munster's sporting director Peter Niemeyer, who took part in the DFB's hearing, said after the announcement: "We are of course very happy that the sports court ruled in our favour. Far be it from us to speak of winners or losers here. 

"In an exceptional situation, a game-influencing mistake was made, which has now been subsequently corrected. 

"We are of course happy for our team, which surpassed itself in the first round of the cup, for our fans and the whole environment, which can look forward to another highlight in the Prussian Stadium."

Munster are set to go into the second-round draw on August 25, with the subsequent tie set to take place on October 26-27.

Bayern Munich's rearranged DFB-Pokal clash with Bremer will take place on August 25, the club announced on Thursday.

Julian Nagelsmann's side were meant to get their campaign underway against the fifth-tier outfit this Friday.

However, positive COVID-19 test results forced Bremer into quarantine and subsequently ensured the first-round clash had to be rescheduled.

Bayern announced the new date in a statement on their official website. It read: "FC Bayern's DFB-Pokal match away to Bremer SV has been rearranged for Wednesday August 25. The first-round clash, which was originally scheduled for Friday, had to be postponed due to quarantine measures imposed on the fifth-division club.

"The new date has now been confirmed by the German Football Association (DFB), with the match at Bremen's Weserstadion kicking off at 20:15 CEST. The new date for the draw for the second round is 5 September at 18:30 CEST."

The original postponement meant the Bundesliga champions missed the chance to get crucial minutes into first-team players before their top-flight opener against Borussia Monchengladbach on August 13.

Further scheduling issues may follow for the Bavarians given they must play five times in 15 days, including the DFL-Supercup against Borussia Dortmund and clashes with both Cologne and Hertha Berlin.

Aside from Nagelsmann's appointment, Bayern have had a quiet transfer window, with the only signing of note being the acquisition of RB Leipzig's Dayot Upamecano following the departures of club greats David Alaba and Jerome Boateng.

Bayern Munich have confirmed their first-round DFB-Pokal match with Bremer has been postponed due to coronavirus concerns.

The Bundesliga champions were due to begin their cup campaign on Friday against the fifth-tier side.

However, Bremer recorded positive COVID-19 test results within the first-team squad, meaning quarantine measures have been imposed on the club.

"The health of our and of our opponent's players are of paramount importance, so we consider the order of the health department to place our team in quarantine as correct and necessary," said Dr. Peter Warnecke, the club's first chairman and hygiene officer.

Bayern later said in a statement: "The DFB [German Football Association] has announced that Bayern's DFB-Pokal match at Bremer SV on Friday has been postponed due to quarantine measures ordered by the authorities for the host club.

"The DFB will make a decision on the rescheduling of the match after consultation with both clubs as soon as possible. In addition, the draw for the second round will also have to be postponed due to both clubs having been placed in different sides of the draw."

Bayern later announced on Tuesday that young forward Joshua Zirkzee will spend the 2021-22 season on loan with Anderlecht.

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic said: "It's very important for Joshua that he gets as much playing time as possible. Anderlecht offers him this chance. Joshua can now take the important next step in his professional career in an interesting league, and I trust him to have a good season."

Bayern are due to begin their Bundesliga title defence away to Borussia Monchengladbach on August 13.

Borussia Dortmund managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke insists there is no economic need to sell Erling Haaland amid speculation he will remain in Germany until next year.

Haaland netted a double as Dortmund won the DFB-Pokal final 4-1 over RB Leipzig, with Jadon Sancho also chipping in with a brace.

The title is a major boost for Dortmund's hopes of retaining Haaland, who has been linked with Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City and Chelsea this off-season.

Dortmund's uplift in Bundesliga form, which has seen them move into the Champions League spots, has also aided their cause to convince the Norwegian to stay.

"You always have fears in my job," Watzke said after Thursday's DFB-Pokal victory.

"We definitely want to keep Erling with us next season. You can see his value, you saw how committed he is last Saturday against Leipzig, with joy.

"Besides we still have it in our own hands, we just have to win twice more now. We have managed the club solidly for so many years, when we go into the second or third year of the coronavirus, then we have to take out a few loans at some point we will pay them back.

"But there is absolutely no economic need to sell him, regardless of whether it is a Europa League or Champions League."

Watzke also casually revealed that interim head coach Edin Terzic had extended his deal with the club to presumably work as an assistant under Marco Rose.

"Edin Terzic did a great job," he said. "He took over the team in December, it was half dead, and he brought it to life. That is a huge achievement at his first coaching station.

"He's holding the keys in his hand. He extended a long-term contract a few weeks ago.

"He's a Dortmund boy, he lives and breathes the club. If Edin wants to do something different, then we have to work with him. But we won't do that now."

Terzic was delighted with the DFB-Pokal success but remained focused on the bigger picture, with Dortmund determined to confirm a top four league spot with two games to play.

"That was definitely not our best game, but we found the key to success," he said.

"Now we all deserve to enjoy this evening tonight but the season is not over for us yet."

Outgoing Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann, who will finish his time at the club without a trophy, said it was a "painful" loss.

"You can imagine that I'm not doing well but it's not about me, it's about the club," he said.

"It's painful. I know what the headlines are like now… We still have two Bundesliga games that are not that pleasant. I'm not thinking about my move [to Bayern Munich] now.

"I'm proud of the boys. "We weren't the worse team, we just scored fewer goals. Dortmund makes a lot out of a little."

Jadon Sancho signed for Borussia Dortmund three months after they last won the DFB-Pokal in May 2017.

Back then, it was Ousmane Dembele and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang who scored to see off Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 in Berlin. Major transfers followed for both: Dembele was quickly on his way to Barcelona, a €105million replacement for Neymar, while Aubameyang left for Arsenal for a reported €60m the following January.

This year, Dortmund returned to the Olympiastadion for their first Pokal final since, with envious eyes from across the continent casting longing looks again at their best attacking talent: Sancho and Erling Haaland. Inevitably, it was they who settled the contest with RB Leipzig, and before the half-time whistle had even blown.

At least, it feels inevitable with these two. Haaland, who scored the second in a 4-1 win after shunting the imposing frame of Bayern Munich-bound Dayot Upamecano to the ground, has hit 55 goals in 57 games in just under 18 months at the club. Sancho has been directly involved in 105 goals (50 scored, 55 assisted) in 135 Dortmund games. These are breathtaking returns for two players who weren't even teenagers when Dortmund last won the Bundesliga in 2012.

Haaland has always seemed an outlier in the expected development of a young footballer; a striker of such prodigious physical and technical gifts that it seems entirely plausible he was grown in a number nine laboratory. Dortmund are convinced they will keep him for another year and they probably will unless a European giant is capable of throwing a pandemic-defying nine-figure transfer bid their way.

Sancho's rise feels different. He is the product of calculated gambles as well as divine gifts. He is the 17-year-old boy who uprooted from Manchester City to speculate on game time in Germany, who made himself undroppable for one of the country's greatest clubs and was in the team of the season before his 20th birthday.

On Thursday, he was the best player on the pitch as Dortmund ruined Julian Nagelsmann's Leipzig farewell tour, as he became the youngest player to score twice in a DFB-Pokal final – at least until Haaland surpassed him. The transformation from brave kid to matchwinning bravura was complete. This was the dawning of a superstar.

His first goal, a curling effort from the kind of area Thierry Henry spent a career exploiting, was a thumping reminder of his finishing skills. His second was impudent footwork, as he collected Marco Reus' cut-back, danced inside the covering defender, and waited for Peter Gulacsi's despairing dive before putting the ball in the net.

Alongside Reus and Haaland, Sancho was a roving, controlled menace. He drifted into space to the side of the Leipzig back three but timed forward runs to perfection. His performance trod that fine line of spontaneity and foresight: unpredictable for defenders, while his team-mates knew where he'd be. Such a display can only come when talent meets application, and lessons are learned. For a 21-year-old to do it is remarkable. He even managed to make a total mess of overplaying a one-on-one chance before another counter-attack saw him set up Haaland for the fourth late on. He's still learning.

We may be in the final weeks of seeing Sancho as a Dortmund player. You can bet Manchester United's interest will only strengthen once Ole Gunnar Solskjaer watches back the highlights of this game, and they won't be alone. With a "gentleman's agreement" in place with Dortmund over his future, this could well be the transfer window where they elect to cash in.

They will do so in the knowledge that Sancho's journey to stardom is complete.

Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland both scored twice as Borussia Dortmund ruthlessly defeated RB Leipzig 4-1 in Thursday's DFB-Pokal final to win the competition for a fifth time.

England winger Sancho netted at the beginning and end of a sensational first 45 minutes for BVB, who added to their advantage through Haaland between those strikes.

This was an impressive display of strength from a Dortmund side with work still to do to secure Champions League qualification, with Haaland's second late on making sure in Berlin after a superb Dani Olmo hit.

The result means Julian Nagelsmann departs Leipzig for Bayern Munich still without the first major trophy of his career and no doubt keen to forget this missed opportunity.

The moves for the first two Dortmund goals started in the same fashion with Leipzig sloppily gifting possession to Marco Reus near halfway.

After five minutes, he took the ball from Kevin Kampl and set in motion a swift attack that passed through Haaland and Mahmoud Dahoud to reach Sancho, who shaped a gorgeous finish into the bottom-right corner.

There was then little by way of goalmouth action until Reus seized on a loose pass on 28 minutes and again fed Haaland to this time go alone, powering beyond Dayot Upamecano and contorting his body to shoot left-footed past Peter Gulacsi.

And an astonishing first half for Reus and Dortmund was complete when he raced clear on the stroke of half-time and squared for Sancho to calmly score again, the goal awarded after a VAR review overturned an incorrect offside call.

The second period was similarly frantic, albeit now with chances at either end. Christopher Nkunku hit the crossbar 19 seconds after his half-time introduction, while fellow substitute Thorgan Hazard toed agonisingly wide from another Reus pass.

Moments after Leipzig struck the woodwork for the second time, with Emil Forsberg somehow stabbing against the post, Olmo rattled in from outside the area.

Sancho should have had a memorable hat-trick but dallied after rounding Gulacsi and allowed the goalkeeper to recover. He picked out Haaland instead the next time Dortmund broke and a fortuitous finish wrongfooted Gulacsi for number four.

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