Sunday, July 14, 2024

Leverkusen undergoing a revival

bayer_leverkusenBayer Leverkusen are currently top of the German Bundesliga, three points clear of second place Werder Bremen. Their form this season has been superb and they will be looking to continue that good form this Sunday.

Big match

Leverkusen will face probably their toughest trip of the season when they visit under-fire giants Bayern Munich. Although Munich have struggled in the league recently they are still hard to beat at the Allianz Arena.

However Bayern are under huge pressure to get back on track and that pressure could work in Leverkusen’s advantage. Despite Bayern having lots of experience in their squad they seem to be feeling the weight of expectancy and could come unstuck.

Experienced coach

In June of this year Leverkusen appointed veteran coach Jupp Heynckes. The 64 year-old had temporarily filled in at Bayern last season when the Bavarians sacked Jurgen Klinsmann. His appointment at Bayern was surprising as he was seen as ‘past it’. However he did managed to help move Bayern from third to second in the Bundesliga table and secured a automatic Champions League qualification spot.

He has turned Leverkusen from underachiever’s last season to a well drilled outfit. Leverkusen made a good start to last season but gradually went into free-fall and finished 9th in the Bundesliga. This season could be different with Heynckes at the helm. His coaching experience has been gathered at giants like Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Benfica. He had been written off after poor spells in charge of Moengladbach and Schalke but it looks like hes back on form now.

Better balance

He has managed to make Leverkusen a more balanced and consistent side. Leverkusen struggled for a balance between attack and defence last season. Their adventurous attacking play allowed other teams to catch them on the break and they conceded far too many goals.

Their approach this season is a little less gung-ho and more disciplined. There is less naivety in their play and they seem to play with a better control. These qualities have been instilled by the old school Heynckes. He has brought an uncomplicated philosophy to the Leverkusen squad.

Good mix

The Leverkusen squad has a good mixture of youth and experience. The addition of Liverpool veteran defender Sami Hyypia has added a solid base to the team. Behind him is the excellent and highly rated keeper Rene Adler. The 24 year-old star has been linked with Premier League clubs Arsenal and Chelsea. He won best Bundesliga goalkeeper in 2008 and will be with the German squad at next years World Cup.

In midfield they have the combative Simon Rolfes and talented Swiss winger Tranquilo Barnetta. Rolfes is the captain of Leverkusen and he plays a key role in the Leverkusen engine room. Barnetta is a superb crosser and is not afraid to take on his full-back. He went to the 2006 World Cup with his country and he will be part of the squad that travel to South Africa next June.

Last but not least their strike-force contains German international striker Stefan Kiessling and Swiss ace Eren Derdiyok. Derdiyok has scored four goals in eleven Bundesliga appearances this season after a move from FC Basel in his homeland. A fair return for his first season in the Bundesliga and much more is expected of the highly rated 21 year-old.

Kiessling has already struck eights times this season in 12 appearances and is Leverkusen’s danger man. He is currently hoping his good form this season will get him on the plane to South Africa with the Germans.

Unfortunately for Leverkusen they are currently without top scorer from last season Patrick Helmes. The German international has yet to make an appearance for the club this season due to injury but he is hoping to return later this month or early December. His return will make Leverkusen even stronger.

First title?

Leverkusen look like they are on the up under Heynckes and they could even register their first ever Bundesliga title come the end of the season. This Sunday’s clash with Bayern will be a good gauge to see how far they have really came. If they pass the test then they can really consider themselves title contenders.


David Nugent

David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.



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