Leverkusen - Anybody still looking for reasons to follow the Bundesliga will have found plenty served up in Saturday evening's epic encounter between Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund.
Two sides intent on attacking and determined to take away three points ultimately had to settle for a draw, a fair reflection of an entertaining evening clash at the BayArena.
Both North-Rhine Westphalian sides did justice to their status as two of Germany's strongest clubs, as well as to the Bundesliga's growing reputation for excitement, twists and tantalising denouements. "There was so much action in the first half with four goals," said Dortmund defender Lukasz Piszczek exclusively to bundesliga.com. "The second half was more tactical and both sides had chances to win it, but a draw is fair."
A game that had a bit of everything certainly left both sets of players with a taste for more. Leverkusen are maintaining a push for the top four, while Dortmund are keen on securing second spot. "We want second, and we're heading in the right direction," added Piszczek. "We've got Hoffenheim to come and we'll do all we can to secure second in that game."
Thoughts will then be able to turn to a DFB Cup final against FC Bayern München, although not until after Dortmund's league duties have been satisfactorily completed. "We always want to play good football and win games," said Oliver Kirch, fresh from scoring his first goal for the club. "We do have the cup final in the back of our minds, but in light of that fact, we want to maintain our intensity over these final games."
The Werkself need to do likewise if they wish to follow BVB onto the highest European stage next term. "Fourth place is a must," said goalkeeper Bernd Leno. "We've got two games and we can't afford to take them lightly." Encouragingly for the 22-year-old and his team, that looks unlikely for a side whose performance levels have improved immeasurably since Sascha Lewandowski replaced Sami Hyypiä a fortnight ago, as they continue to fend off the challenge of VfL Wolfsburg, who are breathing down their necks.
"We were dead and buried two weeks ago and the transformation has been astonishing," Leno told Sky. "The way we played today has even surprised me a bit. We've just played a sensational game against a fantastic Dortmund side, and with a bit of luck we could even have won, but we can live with this point."
There was only one negative aspect for Leverkusen with the news that Stefan Kießling's season is over due to a thigh injury, ruling him out of crucial fixtures against Eintracht Frankfurt and SV Werder Bremen, meaning their task has now become that little bit more difficult. However, Lewandowski’s side are playing with a swagger that says they expect to reach their top-four target with Saturday's game hammering home was how the Champions League would likely be a poorer competition without teams of the calibre of Dortmund and Leverkusen.
Dortmund goalie Roman Weidenfeller features in the Top 5 Saves from Matchday 32 on our official Bundesliga YouTube channel: