Monday, January 23, 2017

Schmidt remains confident of Leverkusen progression

SoccerNews in Serie A 18 Aug 2015

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Bayer Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt still fancies his team’s chances of qualifying for the UEFA Champions League group stage, despite Tuesday’s first-leg loss in Rome.

Lazio hold a slender advantage in the play-off tie thanks to second-half substitute Balde Keita, who came off the bench and netted the match-winning goal in the 77th minute at Stadio Olimpico.

Leverkusen had their chances in the Italian capital after Lars Bender rattled the post with a powerful effort from distance in the first half, while team-mates Hakan Calhanoglu and Admir Mehmedi both came close to finding the back of the net.

The Bundesliga side will return to Germany for next week’s second leg and Schmidt is counting on Leverkusen’s home form to see them through.

Leverkusen have won seven consecutive league matches at BayArena and conceded only one goal.

“It was an intense match. We had several opportunities to score, but we weren’t able to do so,” Schmidt told reporters.

“However, Lazio did – they have a strong team. Now we have the return match where we will try to overturn this result.

“Ahead of the home tie, we will work on our counterattacking and on our defensive game – we will do our best.

“We have worked well in recent weeks and we are pretty confident [of progressing]. It’s only 1-0 and above all we are playing at home.

“Let us not forget we are enormously strong on home turf. Nothing has been decided yet.”

Leverkusen entertain Lazio on August 26.

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