Thursday, March 23, 2017

Schmidt: Leverkusen must beat Barcelona now

SoccerNews in Serie A 4 Nov 2015

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Roger Schmidt stressed Bayer Leverkusen are not giving up hope of reaching the Champions League knockout stages despite an agonising 3-2 defeat to Roma at Stadio Olimpico.

Bundesliga side Bayer fought back from a 2-0 half-time deficit in the Group E clash thanks to goals from Admir Mehmedi and Javier Hernandez, but Omer Toprak’s red card for shoving Mohamed Salah in the area led to Miralem Pjanic scoring the winner from the penalty spot.

Leverkusen subsequently drop to third with four points from as many matches, one adrift of second-placed Roma while the gap to Barcelona is six.

Head coach Schmidt is adamant that Leverkusen can reach the round of 16, but says they will to beat BATE and shock defending champions Barca to have any hope.

“Congratulations to Roma, but we are not giving up,” Schmidt said at a news conference.

“It was annoying that we conceded the 3-2 after we had managed to fight ourselves back into the game after going two goals down.

“We now have to win both of our remaining two games and we would obviously have preferred to be in a better position.

“We allowed them too much time to play that first ball from the back and build counterattacks. It is difficult to contain them then.”

Goalkeeper Bernd Leno, meanwhile, was pleased with his side’s mentality, but concedes Leverkusen were lucky to be just two goals down at the break.

“Of course it’s annoying, but the fact that we came back shows that the team has a good mentality,” Leno added.

“We had to attack, but we left them too much room and they really took advantage of the fast players they have in attack. We waited too long and were too afraid. In the end we were lucky it was only 2-0 at half-time.”

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