Category Archives: L.Bender

Bayer 04 players with their national teams (12/11/2011-15/11/2011)

12/11/2011: Let’s start with the Bayer 04 trio in the Germany team playing against Ukraine. The friendly, away to one of the hosts of next year’s European Championships, kicked off with no Leverkusen players in the starting line-up. Joachim Löw’s team were 3-1 down at the break having suffered at the hands of the Ukrainian counter attacks. Germany came back into the game following the introduction of Simon Rolfes and André Schürrle at the start of the second half. Rolfes, who replaced Sami Khedira, scored his second international goal in his 25th appearance on 65 minutes. André Schürrle, this time playing on the right, was also involved in some good moves. Thomas Müller netted the equaliser on 77 minutes. Toni Kroos scored the first goal. Bayer 04 midfielder Lars Bender also came on in the closing stages of the game to earn his third international cap for Germany.

Michal Kadlec was able to think more seriously about the prospects of playing in the Euro 2012 finals after Friday night’s game. The Czech Republic beat Montenegro 2-0 in the first leg of the play-off in Prague. Kadlec, who has established himself as one of the Czech Republic’s leading performers in the Euro qualifiers, played the full 90 minutes. A situation completely different for Ömer Toprak. The Bayer 04 central defender had to look on from the bench as Turkey suffered a 3-0 reverse in the Euro play-off against Croatia.

Bayer 04 keeper Bernd Leno was able to watch an extremely unusual encounter. Bernd did not play in the Germany U-21 Euro qualifier away to Greece but was able to witness his team register a 5-4 win. The score was 3-3 after 87 minutes before a sensational finale. The Germany U-19s, with Bayer 04 defender Danny da Costa in their ranks, secured a 2-1 narrow win in a friendly against Egypt at Pirmasens. It was also a good night for Nicolai Jörgensen who came on in the second half of Denmark’s 2-0 win against Sweden. Eren Derdiyok was sidelined as Switzerland earned a respectable 0-0 draw in Holland. The Werkself striker was suffering from a flu.

15/11/2011: Michal Kadlec and the Czech Republic have made it: The Bayer 04 defender was in the Czech side that beat Montenegro 1-0 in last night’s play-off following the 2-0 win in the first leg. The Czech Republic can count themselves lucky to come away from Podgorica with a win as the hosts were on top for much of the game. The Czech back four around Kadlec, who played the full 90 minutes, and the outstanding keeper Petr Cech kept the Montenegro attack at bay and Jiracek scored the winning goal against the run of play on 81 minutes. They now join the other 15 teams at next summer’s finals in Poland and Ukraine. The group draw is on 2 December.

As expected, Turkey had to throw in the towel against Croatia after the 3-0 home defeat in the first leg. The Turkish side did manage to secure a 0-0 draw in Zagreb. Ömer Toprak made his full international debut for his country and he produced a good performance over 90 minutes, but it was not enough.

Simon Rolfes and Lars Bender played in the friendly between Germany and Holland in Hamburg. The Werkself midfield duo both came off the bench in the closing stages of the impressive 3-0 win in the Hanseatic city. André Schürrle missed out after going down with the flu.

The Germany U-21s, with keeper Bernd Leno on the bench, notched up a 3-0 victory in their Euro qualifier against Cyprus to extend their impressive run of seven wins in seven games.

Bayer 04 strikers Eren Derdiyok and Nicolai Jörgensen were involved in friendlies. Derdiyok, having recovered from the flu, played the whole game as the lone striker for Ottmar Hitzfeld’s team that secured a 1-0 win in Luxembourg. Denmark beat Finland 2-1 with Jörgensen coming on at the hour mark to earn his second full international cap.

Source: (12/11) // (16/11)

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Ukraine vs Germany 3-3 (Iarmolenko, Konoplyanka, Kroos, Nazarenko, Rolfes, Müller)

Czech Republic vs Montenegro 2-0 (Pilař, Sivok)

Turkey vs Croatia 0-3 (Olić, Mandžukić, Čorluka)

Greece U21 vs Germany U21 4-5 (Petsos, Mlapa, Mlapa, Fortounis, Esswein, Petsos, Bell, Vlachodimos, Mlapa)

Denmark vs Sweden 2-0 (Bendtner, Krohn-Dehli)

Montenegro vs Czech Republic 0-1 (Jiráček)

Croatia vs Turkey 0-0

Germany vs Holland 3-0 (Müller, Klose, Özil)


Game Report: Champions League Group E, Fixture 2, Bayer Leverkusen vs KRC Genk 2:0

Bayer Leverkusen beat Belgian champions Genk 2-0 at the BayArena in a sometimes nervy performance to go second in Champions League Group E behind Chelsea and leave Genk at the bottom of the table.

Lars Bender opened the scoring on half an hour, but Leverkusen laboured for long periods and only put the game to bed in the final minutes as substitute Michael Ballack scored with a deflected effort.

Genk had their chances, particularly through set pieces and can consider themselves unfortunate not to have grabbed a point.

The first half was dominated by Leverkusen, though there were brief pockets of Genk pressure, and it was they who created the first chance after a quarter of an hour. Leverkusen would struggle with set pieces all half and this was the first as Jeroen Simaeys headed over at the far post from the first corner of the match.

Andre Schurrle was involved in everything for Leverkusen and it was he a minute later who sliced a golden opportunity miles over the bar from 10 yards after being teed up by Sidney Sam.

Leverkusen looked to be running short on ideas until Bender grabbed the breakthrough. When Stefan Kiessling was tackled after trying to turn in the box, the ball fell to the young German, who hit a first time effort from a tight angle past the lunge of Laszlo Koteles and into the far corner.

A couple of efforts from the edge of the area went close for Leverkusen, the second a shot from Renato Augusto that was acrobatically palmed behind by Koteles. Genk had one further half chance following another corner to the far post, but it went the same way as the other, flying wide.

The second half was a bit of a timid affair until the excellent Schurrle almost scored what would have been a memorable solo effort. He jinked in and around four or five Genk challenges and found himself with only the goalkeeper to beat, but his shot flew into the legs of Koteles and away to safety.

Genk created a wonderful opportunity to equalise with 13 minutes to go as Marvin Ogunjimi was presented with a free header with absolutely no one around him. He headed into the ground, taking some pace off the ball, but Bernd Leno still had to pull off an excellent save to tip it around the post.

It was nervy in the last 10 minutes until Ballack settled it. Anele Ngcongca’s header fell onto the chest of the German veteran and his early volley hit off the same man and flew into the far corner.


Reactions after the game

Robin Dutt: “It was an important victory for us. People talked before the match about how we needed to win, but if you come off a run of three defeats in a row nothing is guaranteed.  I saw a good mentality from my team today, even though not everything worked out perfectly, of course.  We sometimes lacked aggression and didn’t apply as much pressure as we should have, but that has something to do with the confidence level after the latest results. The victory nevertheless feels great.”

Michal Kadlec: “Of course we’re happy with the win, especially given that recent weeks have not been easy for us. However, you have to say that there is still a lot of room for improvement.  The performance was a step in the right direction, but the win was the only thing that mattered.  At the end we were trembling, but Bernd Leno parried the header wonderfully. With Michael Ballack’s goal in added time, we were finally able to relax. Lars [Bender] was really happy with his goal and I’ve already asked him where he got his left foot. It doesn’t really matter who scores, though, the main thing is to win in the Champions League.”

Lars Bender: “At Leverkusen, we’re not used to losing three successive games. We absolutely had to win this game and it’s taken a lot of pressure off us. I don’t know why Michal Kadlec said I don’t have a left foot – I don’t score often, but when I do it’s always with my left. For the goal, I didn’t think too much about it, I just hit it and it was a nice strike.  It’s great to be named man of the match, but the win is more important”. Chelsea are the clear favourites in this group and we’re in competition with Valencia for second place. It was a good first step in the right direction and now we have to win at home against Valencia.”

Line-up: Leverkusen vs Genk

Substitutions Leverkusen
65 min. Balitsch for Renato Augusto
80 min. Ballack for Kadlec
90. + 3 min. Derdiyok for Kießling

Substitutions Genk
46 min. Barda for Vossen
69 min. Hyland for Nadson
78 min. Nwanganga for Hubert

Yellow Cards: Kadlec and Toprak (both Leverkusen); Nadson and Pudil (both Genk)

1:0 L. Bender (30 min.)
2:0 Ballack (90. + 2 min.)

Statistics Leverkusen vs Genk
Attempts on target: 5 vs 5
Attempts off target: 11 vs 4
Corners: 7 vs 9
Offsides: 3 vs 2
Fouls committed: 15 vs 18
Possession (%): 62 vs 38

Standings Group E
1 Chelsea FC 4 Points
2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 3 Points
3 Valencia CF 2 Points
4 KRC Genk 1 Point

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Bayer 04 players with their national teams (01/09/2011-06/09/2011)

by Tai_Leverkusen

Germany achieved the qualification for the UEFA EURO 2012 with a comfortable 6-2 home victory against Austria. André Schürrle entered the field in the 73rd minute to score shortly after the 5th goal for Germany.  Simon Rolfes saw the entire match from the bench.  However in the following friendly against Poland he was amongst 11 starters.  Rolfes played 77 minutes and was replaced by Lars Bender, who was called up the day earlier.

Bernd Leno was in line to play for Germany’s U-20s but had to drop out after picking up a light knee injury when he collided with Mario Götze in Saturday’s encounter against Borussia Dortmund.

Defender Danny da Costa was called up for Germany’s U-19, who won 5-3 against Belgium in Verviers and drew 2-2 against the Netherlands at the Franz Kremer Stadium in Cologne.

Michal Kadlec played twice for the Czech Republic this week.  First in the 2-2 euro qualifier draw against Scotland, converting a penalty in the last minute and in a 4-0 victory against Ukraine, where he managed to score two goals.

Eren Derdiyok was also involved in the qualifiers with Switzerland who played against Bulgaria in Basel. It ended with a 3-1 victory for the hosts.

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Germany vs Austria 6-2 (Özil, Özil, Podolski, Arnautović, Özil, Harnik, Schürrle, Götze)

Poland vs Germany 2-2 (Lewandowski, Kroos, Blaszczykowski, Cacau)

Scotland vs Czech Republic 2-2 (Miller, Plasil, Fletcher, Kadlec)

Czech Republic vs Ukraine 4-0 (Kadlec, Kadlec, Rezek, Kolar)

Switzerland vs Bulgaria 3-1 (Ivanov, Shaqiri, Shaqiri, Shaqiri)

Review of individual performances and new transfers

Club boss Wolfgang Holzhäuser said this week in an interview on Bayer04-TV that the first stage of the squad planning for the next season has finalized. Additional transfers could happen if injuries occur or the new coach Robin Dutt sees in the preseason a need to improve a certain position.

However, according to the German Press we have no further room for investments into our squad.  The guaranteed sum of around 20 million euros for playing the group-stage of the Champions League is already used up.  The transfer of Schürrle (8-10 million euros), the stadium upgrade (costs: around 80 million euros, financed by a 0% interest loan from the Bayer AG), contract extensions and generous investments in new players at times where the Werkself did not play internationally could mean that we will not see further spectacular signings this summer apart from André Schürrle.  

Transfer Balance
negative= Expenditure in Transfers > Income from Transfers
Income from Transfers > Expenditure in Transfers

currently Season 2011/12: -10.200.000 €
Season 2010/11: +850.000 € (Winter-Sale of Helmes turned balance positive)
Season 2009/10: -4.950.000 €
Season 2008/09: -7.050.000 €
Season 2007/08: -7.180.000 €
Season 2006/07: +8.270.000 €
Season 2005/06: +1.565.000 €
Season 2004/05: +11.986.000 €
<<W.Holzhäuser substitutes R.Calmund as CEO with the objective to reduce the accumulated debt during our great years>>
Season 2003/04: -1.200.000
Season 2002/03: -13.450.000 € (relegation was avoided in the last fixture)
Season 2001/02: -2.150.000 € (3x

More details>> 

Find below a personal review on the individual season performances of the current squad and new signings; players that will continue on loan or be sold; or have left us this year.


Red= player leaving us
Green= new signing
Blue= future uncertain

Rating= from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest).  

RB= right-back
CB= centre-back
LB= left-back
DM= defensive midfield
RM= right midfield
LM= left midfield
OM= offensive midfield (central)
ST= striker



René Adler: Overall steady from beginning to end with not many point losing mistakes.  Spectacular saves from him have been rare this season compared to other years.  Should extend his contract (running till 2012) in the next 2-3 weeks. *7*

Fabian Giefer: Did a good job when René Adler was out in two Bundesliga and two Europa League games. Good prospects for the future! *6*

Benedikt Fernandez: Played for the reserve team, will move to a 2.Bundesliga team. (contract expires) *no rating*

Tomasz Bobel: No match practice, will leave us too (contract expires). *no rating*

We will need to sign a third goalkeeper or promote one from the youth team.


Gonzalo Castro (RB,LB,LM): Seems to perform at a higher level in midfield, where ball losses and poor positioning are less noticeable. His three goals and seven assists in the Bundesliga, show his offensive potential. *7*

Daniel Schwaab (RB,CB): Was stronger this season in the centre-back position than as right-back. His change of position arose due to Hyypiä’s declining physical form. Great at initiating attacks from defense (can run forward with the ball and play a difficult pass). A quality which Stefan Reinartz and Manuel Friedrich lack. *7*

Stefan Reinartz (CB,DM): Not dynamic enough for the centre-back position, although he improved in the second part of the season. However, quick and agile strikers will continue to have it easy against him. Better off in defensive midfield. *4*

Manuel Friedrich (CB): Had a good stretch of games before the winter break. A shoulder injury made him miss most of the second part of the season. Given his age (32 in August) little room for physical improvement (slow). *5*

Sami Hyypiä (CB): It was an honor to have such a great player in our team. His second season at Bayer 04 was marked by an injury before the winter-break followed by a declining physical form during the rest of the season. Sami decided to renounce his last year of contract as he did not feel confident on playing another season at the level he would like to.  The Finnish player will use next season to obtain his coaching license.  He will work as an assistant to Finland’s national coach Mika-Matti Paatelainen and undergo trainee-ships at different clubs including Bayer 04. In 2012/13 he will join the Werkself as assistant coach for at least two years. *6*

Ömer Toprak (CB): New signing for Leverkusen coming from Freiburg. We have been following this centre-back the last three years.  A severe karting accident at the beginning of 2009 stopped his progression, he was out for over six months.  It took quite a while till he reached the level before the incident, 2010 was surely not his year.   In 2011 he had four decent games over the full distance, but once the news got out that he would move to Leverkusen, his performances dropped again.  Ömer finished the season with a red card, that did not allow him to play the season finale against Bayer 04. *4*

Michal Kadlec (LB,LM): Improved in comparison to last season, but never regained the level of his first year with Bruno Labbadia. Linked with Liverpool in the last months. *7*

Bastian Oczipka (LB,LM): This Bayer youngster has been on loan for three years, first at Hansa Rostock and then St.Pauli. In both clubs he was part of the starting line-up and therefore added 82 league games on both loan spells. Bastian played a great Bundesliga season but suffered a bone injury in the 23rd fixture which put an end to it. He is considered as one of the uprising German talents on the left back position together with Marcel Schmelzer (Dortmund) and Felix Bastians (Freiburg). With his return to Leverkusen, Kadlec will finally have the chance to receive a rest when needed.  As mentioned above he could also be the replacement for the Czech player in case of a transfer to Liverpool.  The initial report of Bild that Oczipka would be sold to Hoffenheim for 3 million Euros was false, the player confirmed his return last week in an interview. *7*

Domagoj Vida (RB,CB): Played only one Bundesliga and eight Europa League games. Solid on the defensive end, Domagoj should concentrate on improving his game going forward, especially passing and centers. Despite having some experience as centre-back in his previous team NK Osijek, Jupp Heynckes did not consider him for this position mainly because of his height (1,82 m), a factor he considers important. If Robin Dutt thinks the same will have to be seen. I expect him to break-through next season, considering that his first year was also marked by the adaptation to a new environment (did not speak any word of English or German when he arrived). *4*

Danny da Costa (RB,CB,RM): The youth player gave a solid debut with the first team against Atletico Madrid. Physically strong and versatile, I hope he gets more minutes next season despite sitting his Baccalaureate. If you look at the current squad: only Adler, Castro and Reinartz have made themselves with a regular place in the team coming from the youth section of Bayer 04. Too little, for a club that is praised nationwide for its excellent work in this area. *no rating*


Arturo Vidal (DM, RB): The Chilean played an extraordinary season with ten goals and nine assists in the league. It is no wonder that he has caught the attention of many big clubs (Bayern, Chelsea, Valencia, Atletico Madrid, Inter/AC Milan…).  Known in the past for too many aggressive fouls and cards, Arturo has managed to finish the Bundesliga season with only four yellows and one yellow-red in 33 games. His contract expires in 2012 and he has so far rejected all contract extension offers. Both Holzhäuser and Völler said recently that he will play so or so next season with us. Is this just a way to increase the price tag or are we really going to hold onto him without seeing a buck next year if he continues to reject a contract extension and signs with another team? *10*

Sidney Sam (RM,LM): One of the best newcomers in the 1.Bundesliga.  Seven goals and three assists is a dream start for him in Germany’s highest division. Jupp Heynckes preferred him to play Robben style (strong left foot) on the right side, will Dutt too? *8*

Simon Rolfes (DM): Had a couple of good games (especially the one against Wolfsburg) when he came back from his injury but in the last matches of the season declined severely and was consequently taken out of the starting line-up. A large proportion of the Fans see him inadequate for the captain role, because he often fails to deliver in big games. They want to see Michael Ballack as captain. I personally doubt that Robin Dutt will have the “balls” to change the leadership in the team.  I would welcome it, but it’s a tough decision that can affect the atmosphere in the team!   *5*

Renato Augusto (RM,OM,LM): With six goals and six assists this was his best season at Leverkusen. Playing in a central position helped him to step-up his game. Renato has learned to minimize his ball losses by avoiding risky dribbling in situations that could lead to a counter-attack. His work against the ball has also improved *9*

Lars Bender (DM): Despite having strong competitors on his position (Rolfes, Vidal and Ballack) Lars played 26 Bundesliga games and fulfilled his role regularly. A player with great prospects for the future. *7*

Hanno Balitsch (RB,DM,CB): His signing was seen skeptical by many fans at the beginning but he quickly turned this around with his fighter nature on the pitch. Great versatile back-up player! *6*

Michael Ballack (DM/OM): Chased by injuries in 2010, he has given the team some stability in the last stretch of games. Hopefully we will see next season the real Ballack giving the team a lot of goals and assists! *6*

Kevin Kampl (DM): The twenty year-old Slovenian youth player did not get a chance to play with the professional team. Future uncertain! *no rating*

Burak Kaplan (RM,LM): Was loaned out to Greuther Fürth (2.Bundesliga) in the winter-break. Despite being technically gifted, he is not making the next step given his difficult character. Jupp Heynckes more than once criticized his attitude in the training sessions. Only played four games in the Europa League in which he did not convince. At Greuther Fürth he scored three goals (all by set-piece) but his loaning spell ended with a disciplinary suspension by coach Michael Büskens which made him return to Bayer 04 earlier than expected. Will be loaned out again or sold. *2*

Tranquillo Barnetta (RM,LM): Not a great year for last-season assist leader of the Werkself. Only two goals and two assists in 24 league games are poor stats for the Swiss national player. An injury made him miss most of the second part of the season. Every year there are rumours that he might leave us, looking at the signings of Schürrle and Bellarabi his future at Bayer 04 is again uncertain. *3*

André Schürrle (LM,RM,ST): Mainz’s success this season is mainly due to his impressive year (15 goals / 5 assists). The signing will cost us 8 to 10 million euros depending on our results. *10*

Karim Bellarabi (RM,ST): This German-Moroccan 21 year-old talent of Eintracht Braunschweig was chased by a few Bundesliga clubs this season including Dortmund and Hoffenheim. Personally I never have seen him play but from what I heard he is a very quick right midfielder/striker. This season he scored in the 3.Liga eight goals and gave sixteen assists in 35 games.  He comes on a free transfer. There has been no talk about loaning him out, so he is set to be another speedy alternative on the wings next to Sidney Sam and André Schürrle. *7*


Eren Derdiyok (ST): Some of his six goals in the league were a real beauty, but he will want to forget this season as quickly as possible. Especially his barren run between fixture 8 and 23 (872 minutes) in which he did not score a single Bundesliga goal. Needs to improve his pressing on the rival defense and make more out of his chances.  Last week linked to FC Sevilla, I don’t think he will switch Champions League for Europa League *4*

Stefan Kießling (ST,RM): Best Werkself striker this season with seven goals and three assists. However Stefan could not confirm the great performance of last season. The long injury and formation change surely played a part but the blond striker also missed quite a lot of open chances on goal in the last games of the season which could have increased his account significantly. *5*

Nicolai Jörgensen (ST,LM,RM): While Domagoj Vida showed that he has potential, Nicolai in his nine Bundesliga and seven Europa League game did not display signs of quality. A season on loan could do him well. *2*


Zvonko Pamic (RM,OM): He was signed last summer for 500.000 EUR from HNK Rijeka and directly loaned out to Freiburg. Despite playing a good Under-19 European Championship (3 goals and 1 assist) Robin Dutt only gave him a few minutes in two Bundesliga games. He will be loaned another year to MSV Duisburg (2.Bundesliga). *no rating*

Jens Hegeler (DM, RM,CB): Together with Bastian Oczipka the best performing Bayer 04 player on loan this season and partly responsible for Nuremberg’s success this year. He returned last summer to Leverkusen after a 1 ½ year loan spell at FC Augsburg (2.Bundesliga) and asked to be loaned out again considering that he will have it hard to obtain match practise with the signing of Michael Ballack.  Jens played all 34 Bundesliga games at Nuremberg scoring three goals and giving three assists. Although more a defensive midfielder, he has played several games on the right wing. His loan spell finishes in 2012, if Leverkusen decides to sell him Nuremberg has a preference purchase right. *7*

Lucas (CB): This 19 year-old talent is a ghost, as hardly any information is available on him.  More than a year ago Leverkusen’s scouts discovered Lucas in Brazil and decided to sign the tall center-back from Associação Portuguesa de Desportos (Sao Paulo).  Last summer, he was supposed to take part in the season preparation of the professional team and play in some friendlies. It did not happen.  In January 2011 he was sent on loan for 1 1/2 years to Kaiserslautern, where he did not play a single game nor sat on the bench this season.  The club from the Betzenberg was granted a purchase option.  *no rating*

Hajime Hosogai (DM,LB): Regarded in Japan as one of the best players of the J-League, Hajime had a hard time to find a spot on the starting line-up of Augsburg.  Only at the end of the season did he play a few games over the full distance. His loan spell ends in the June 2012. *3*

Thanos Petsos (RB,DM): The greek Under-21 player was loaned out this summer to Kaiserlautern. Normally a right-back in the youth teams of Bayer 04, he made himself with a place in the first eleven as defensive midfielder from Fixture 12 onwards. He will continue for another season at Kaiserlautern. *5*

Richard Sukuta-Pasu (ST): In his second season at St.Pauli, Richie continued to struggle.  He only got play 155 minutes in the Bundesliga (1 goal + 1 assist). His loan spell at St.Pauli ends this summer and Kaiserlautern seems to be keen on purchasing the striker. *1*

Constant Djakpa (LB,LM): Not more than a back-up player at Hannover. It is not expected that the German club will make use of the purchase option.  Bayer 04 is likely to sell him.  According to English news reports, Newcastle United is interested in the player. *2*


Patrick Helmes (ST): Was sold in the winter-break after disagreements with coach Jupp Heynckes over his standing in the team. Unsatisfied with the amount of minutes he got to play, the 1-striker tactical formation and the demands of doing more defensive work on the pitch, he switched to Wolfsburg for an initial fee of 5 million and 3 million euros in installments. Under coach Steve McClaren and later Felix Magath he did not manage to make an impact. Patrick only scored one goal in seven matches and was more a substitute than a starter. Magath declared in an interview that he should improve his physical condition. Personally, I am not a fan of Helmes (passive player) and think that if he wants to be successful in the future he will have to work on his weaknesses, something he has was not prepared to do in Leverkusen (kept complaining). *4*

Marcel Risse (RM,LM): The winger has grown at Mainz despite not being a regular starter. In 25 league games he scored 2 goals and gave 5 assists. Risse was loaned out at the beginning of this season and Mainz used the purchase option of 800.000 Euros to acquire him. The amount was initially higher but was then reduced in the negotiations for the Schürrle Transfer. *6*


I like very much the idea of improving our wings with speedy players; this seems to be the objective with the transfers of André Schürrle and Karim Bellarabi. Under Heynckes the wingers were told to go inside and look for a finish or pass. With Robin Dutt as coach we can expect a few more centers from the goal line. The 1-striker formation (4-2-3-1) is likely to continue.  At Freiburg our new coach used successfully Cissé (22 goals) as lonely striker. Whether Kiessling or Derdiyok can deliver in similar fashion is a big question. Has it do with the tactics we played under Heynckes (not enough centres? too defensive?) that they had such a poor record or are both not made to play lonely in attack?

In the last days I have been thinking that selling Vidal would be not totally wrong.  If we really have no more room for further investments in our rather weak central defense, would it not make sense to let him leave for 20 million euros (to a foreign club, not Bayern!)? We would receive 70% of the transfer fee (Colo Colo 30%), 14 million euros and could replace for example Manuel Friedrich with a quality centre-back like Höwedes, Dante, Mertesacker.  Another option would be moving Reinartz into midfield to avoid having five centre-backs for two positions.

Hyypiä has led very well our defense in the last two years, I have my doubts that between Schwaab, Reinartz, M.Friedrich and Toprak a new leader can emerge who will coordinate our defensive line in a similar way. Against medium/bottom table teams this can be enough, but to make another step forward and play an even better season I see this configuration insufficient.

Looking forward to your comments, there is a lot to talk about 😉

Game Report: Europa League, Fixture 4 (Group-stage), Bayer Leverkusen vs Aris Thessaloniki 1:0

Last-Minute Leverkusen wins 1-0 against Aris Thessaloniki and makes a big step towards the next round!!

As in Greece, Jupp Heynckes decided to surprise everyone with quite a few changes:
-Balitsch played as right-back instead of Schwaab
-Jørgensen acted as 2nd striker
-Kaplan began as left winger

Rolfes remained on the bench!

The coach promised a top performance but all we got to see were defensive instability and a lot of ball losses/passing errors.  No solid defense and no well played combinations in attack. 

Aris did not as expected just concentrate on defense, they were very dangerous in their counter-attacks. It was again René Adler who had to keep our team in the game.

The first half was very poor. The only good chance by Leverkusen was a distance shot by Vidal that hit the crossbar. Aris best intent on goal was also from distance (Toni Calvo) but overall the Greek team created more danger in the area than the Werkself.

The picture did not change in the first 15 minutes of the second half. Bayer was lucky to maintain the 0-0 as Aris had 2 good 1 on 1 situations by Javito and Cesnauskis but Adler continues to be invincible as in previous games. In the last half hour, Aris focused more on defense while Bayer 04 pushed forward in look for a goal. But with constant pass imprecisions this was a difficult task.

Lucky that Arturo Vidal was in the right place (in the small area) at the right time (90 min.) and scored somehow a late winner for the Werkself!

Our poor performance yesterday is best displayed in the corner stats: 6 vs 12 at home 😦

Despite playing with two strikers after the Mainz loss (leader in the league back then) we have not manage to score more than one goal/per game against Mönchengladbach (18th), Schalke (17th) and Aris (5th in the Greek league) . René Adler continues to get the best grades as his defense fails to do their job.

Jupp Heynckes said in press conference that this was the worse match of Bayer 04 this season. Rudi Völler was also very angry: “We are relying too much on luck. Against Kaiserslautern we need not only to improve by 30,40 or 50 percent: 100 percent are necessary to achieve a victory. Our poor game has nothing to do that we were tired, we missed attitude/motivation on the pitch today.  Only René Adler and Arturo Vidal played well.”

Good to hear some criticism! Let’s see if Kaiserslautern works out better. 😉

Sami Hyypiä & Lars Bender

Jupp Heynckes said in an interview with Sat.1 that Sami Hyypiä could play in 2 weeks against Rosenborg BK.  That’s very good news!

Lars Bender suffered a cerebral concussion, he is likely to miss the game on Sunday.

Line-up: Leverkusen (top) vs Aris (bottom)

Substitutions Leverkusen
46 min. Rolfes for L. Bender
46 min. Derdiyok for Jörgensen
63 min. Barnetta for Kaplan

Substitutions Aris
56 min. Cesnauskis for Ruiz
79 min. Kaznaferis for Toni Calvo
91 min. Prittas for Koke

Yellow cards: Vidal (Leverkusen)

1:0 Vidal (90 min.)

Statistics Leverkusen vs Aris
Attempts on target: 4 vs 5
Fouls: 12 vs 9
Corners: 6 vs 12
Offside: 0 vs 3

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12 min recap here>>

Rosenborg BK vs Atletico Madrid 1-2

Goals: 0:1 Aguero (4.), 1:1 Henriksen (52.) and 1:2 Tiago (84.)

or here>>

René Adler, a stronghold for our team

Lars Bender suffered a cerebral concussion

Post-game: Arturo Vidal

More pictures>>

Table Group B
1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 8 Points
2 Club Atlético de Madrid 7 Points
3 Aris Thessaloniki FC 4 Points
4 Rosenborg BK 3 Points

Goal difference plays no role when tied to points.  The results between the tied teams are used (1st points gained, 2nd goals scored away..).

We will qualify for the next round after the 5th fixture if:
-Atletico wins vs Aris + Bayer 04 draws/wins vs Rosenborg
-Draw Atletico vs Aris + Bayer 04 draws/wins vs Rosenborg
-Aris wins vs Atletico + Bayer 04 wins vs Rosenborg (qualified as 1st in the group)