Category Archives: Match Previews

Match Preview: Bundesliga, Fixture 33, Bayer Leverkusen vs Hamburg SV

Saturday, 07/05/2011 @ 15:30 (GMT+2)

With two matches left in the Bundesliga, Bayer 04 needs to add 2 points to secure the second spot which grants the direct qualification for the Champions League.  This is assuming that Bayern wins their 2 games.

Why can we be optmistic that the Werkself will secure the second place on this match-day?

  • Six straight wins in the BayArena: while in the first part of the season we lost a lot of points at home, we have regained our home strength in 2011. Away we have suffered 2 straight losses: Bayern & Cologne
  • Hamburg is not fighting for anything, they are 8th in the table and have no chance to qualify for the Europa League
  • Our opponent will miss important players like Mathijsen, Jansen, Zé Roberto, Petric and Van Nistelrooy
  • The two last games between both teams have ended with a 4:2 win for Leverkusen

Or will we choke again to make it interesting till the last match-day? Would not be the first time that we show nerves on the last metres.

It would be a huge blow! Not only could we celebrate in the BayArena our return to the Champions League six year after and avoid a final in which I certainly would not bet my money on Leverkusen (psychological advantage would be with Bayern). Legend Sami Hyypiä who is retiring as a player would have this way a nice farewell in front of the home crowd. Jupp Heynckes despite departing to Bayern Munich, should also get some recognition for reaching the objectives set by the management (2009/10: Europa League; 2010/11: Champions League). 

Line-up

Ballack will not find himself in the starting line-up for the first time after 7 consecutive games. No idea what is behind this, as he certainly played well in his last appearances. However after the Cologne game which made Dortmund champion he said the following: “It could be that we are missing luck, perhaps willingness. If we review the season, nearly every time we had the chance to come closer to Dortmund, we failed to do our part. The team has to believe, that they can reach higher objectives. This club needs to win something, to get rid of this Vizekusen image so that this belief in achieving the highest possible returns to the changing rooms. We have certainly in the team, players that will raise their voice and who want more.”
Something totally opposite to the management and the coach himself, they congratulated Dortmund and said that that the chase was seen as mission impossible, too much had to happen (The comfort-zone says hello).

Or maybe the coach just wants to give Renato Augusto the central role in midfield to improve the dynamics upfield? Rolfes (not Ballack) will be nominated by Joachim Löw for the upcoming games of the Nationalmannschaft. The Bayer-04 captain is set to return to the starting line-up and should play next to Vidal in defensive midfield. 


Line-up Hamburg (from Kicker):
Rost – Diekmeier,Kacar,Westermann,Aogo – Jarolim,Trochowski – Pitroipa,Elia – B.Hatira, Guerrero

Will we decide it on Saturday or do we have to pray to the football god on the last fixture?

Match Preview: Bundesliga, Fixture 32, 1.FC Cologne vs Bayer Leverkusen

Saturday 30/04/2011 @15:30 (GMT+2)

  • No alcohol allowed on premises near and in the RheinEnergie Stadium
  • The fans of the Werkself will be escorted by police from Cologne central train station to the entry gates of the visitors stands
  • Glass bottles have been prohibited during match day in trains circulating around Cologne and Leverkusen
  • The police will use special trained dogs to screen for pyrotechnic substances amongst fans 
  • Coach Jupp Heynckes has pledged that fans of both teams should take it easy tomorrow.  Emotions are okay but violence not.
  • 5.000 Bayer 04 Fans will support their team in the forbidden city. Cologne Fans will sing: “You will never win the German League”, and will receive these replies: “We have never been relegated/We are the Nr.1 at the Rhein”.

Yeah it’s Derby time! Cologne will want to avoid slipping further down near relegation positions and Leverkusen is determined to make the Champions League classification perfect and maybe look at a higher objective if Dortmund permits it.

Ballack will be very much in focus: not long ago he celebrated a victory against Schalke with “Scheiss FC Cologne” paroles. And most of you also probably remember Podolski’s slap in the face with the Nationalmannschaft.  Fans of the Werkself have made available online a Ballack Mask to wear for the game.  Enough for the newspaper Express to headline today: “5.000 Ballack’s will travel to Cologne”.

Frank Schäfer, coach of 1.FC Cologne, resigned this week.  His decision came after unsolvable disagreements with sports director Volker Finke, who will now coach the team till the end of the season.

Line-up

Rolfes after a series of poor games could actually not make the starting line-up despite being captain.  Derdiyok will rotate back into the team. 

Line-up Cologne (from Kicker):
Rensing – Andrezinho,Geromel,Mohamad,Eichner – Lanig,Petit – Chihi,Jajalo,Podolski – Novakovic

Video uploaded by third party with no link to Mundilev.tk. We assume no responsibility for it!

Match Preview: Bundesliga, Fixture 31, Bayer Leverkusen vs 1899 Hoffenheim

Saturday 23/04/2011 @15:30 (GMT+2)

Press conference (Thursday)

Opening statement Assistant Coach Peter Hermann (Heynckes was ill with the flu): Everyone can imagine that this was not an easy week for us.  On Monday we analysed the Bayern game and had a few conversations to find out what happened in Munich.  The training performances improved as the week progressed.  We are now focused on Hoffenheim, which will also be a difficult game.  Despite the severe defeat, which was no doubt a big frustration for us, we continue to be in a good position in the table.  The team has added 61 points that is already more than the entire last season.  These 61 points derived from hard work and have not be won in the lottery.  We want to display again a good performance like we did in the weeks before Bayern.  I have a positive feeling for this match as the team has worked very focused during the week and all players are available.  Our objective is to deliver an attractive game for the fans to apologize for the bad display in Munich. We will make this happen!

Question: How difficult was it to work with the team this week, given the 5-1 and Heynckes absence due to illness?

Hermann: The players have a good character, it was therefore no problem.  They were aggressive in the training sessions and heated discussions took also place.  I think this is positive.

Question: You said that the team invested too little in Munich, how did the players take this statement?

Hermann: We were bad at both ends and gave Bayern too much space because the players did not run enough.  Sometimes it’s difficult to find the reason for this.  It’s not the first time, also against Mönchengladbach it was similar.  However we always came back after these defeats.  This will be the case on Saturday.

Question: Bayern is 6 points behind, do you think this is a comfortable situation or could the race for the second position get exciting?

Hermann: This is a good lead, but Bayern can win all 4 games.  We need to get the needed points to make the direct qualification for the Champions League perfect.  We are not a young team anymore, there is a good mix of quality players who exactly know in which competition they want to play next season.

Question: How do you judge Hoffenheim at the moment?

Hermann: Hoffenheim can play a good ball.  They had their ups and downs this season.  Now there is no pressure for them being in the middle of the table.  This can be to our advantage or disadvantage.  We need to look at us and give our best.

Question: Were you happy after the game that Bayern Munich will be your next employer?

Hermann: I did not think about that. I felt ashamed, all I had on my mind was to get back to the team bus and talk to nobody.

Line-up

Heynckes/Hermann have two options: line-up the same eleven to give them a chance to make up for the Bayern loss or introduce changes.

Line-up Hoffenheim (from Kicker):
Starke – Beck,Vorsah,Compper,Braafheid – Rudy,Kaiser – Sigurdsson,Alaba – Babel,Ibisevic

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There are rumours that Rene Adler’s contract extension will be soon announced! At the moment there are no offers from other clubs.

Match Preview: Bundesliga, Fixture 30, Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen

Sunday 17/4/2011 @ 15:30 (GMT+2)

Press conference (Friday)

Opening statement Jupp Heynckes: “Sunday’s game is of high interest to the fans and media. The encounters against Bayern Munich are always exciting, we play in a fantastic stadium against the record champion of Germany. Having such a big lead to Hannover and Bayern and being the best team in this second half of the season, allows us to travel to Munich with a lot of confidence. We are determined to win this match. Of course, Bayern is a strong opponent but my team is in a great shape and has worked well during the week in the training sessions. René Adler and Renato Augusto will also be back with us, that’s excellent news. Fabian Giefer has done a solid job when he played, in fact we haven’t lost with him. But for this kind of match the experience and class of René Adler will be important to succeed.

Question: Will it be difficult for you to fully focus on Bayer Leverkusen, knowing that if your future club loses they will have it difficult to reach the Champions League?

Heynckes: I am an employee of Bayer Leverkusen till the 30/6/2011 and secondly Bayern Munich would sign the wrong coach if I would be thinking in my next club. We want to continue our positive trend. The people who watch me on the training pitch see that my motivation is fully centered around Bayer Leverkusen.

Question: Will Bayern’s change of coach, affect your analysis of the opponent?

Heynckes: Of course a new coach normally makes adjustments in the formation. We will see different players in goal and defensive midfield and can expect a different approach to the match itself. But I know the whole squad of Bayern Munich very well and therefore I don’t think they can surprise me.

Question: Will Ballack take a special role in this match, being the most experienced and an ex-player of Bayern?

Heynckes: Michael has improved his fitness over the last matches and plays now in a position where he can construct our plays. He can transmit his experience and self-confidence to the team on the field. Now that he is fully fit, he is very valuable to us.

Line-up

Renato Augusto and Adler will return to the starting eleven. 

Line-up Bayern (from Kicker):
Butt – Lahm,Breno,Luiz Gustavo,Contento – Tymoshchuk,Schweinsteiger – Hamit Altintop,T. Müller,Ribery – Gomez

The last time Bayer Leverkusen won in Munich was 1989!  Time to break this negative record!

Match Preview: Bundesliga, Fixture 28, 1.FC Kaiserslautern vs Bayer Leverkusen

Saturday, 02/04/2011 @ 15:30 (GMT+2) << Time changed in Europe last weekend!

Press conference (Thursday)

Opening Statement Heynckes: Kaiserlautern has not lost any of the last 4 games.  They are known for playing in front of their fans to the limit from the 1st to the last minute.  Not only that, our opponent is also capable of playing a good ball given the talented players in their team.  But Bayer Leverkusen has made progress in the last weeks/months, we are not just a team which plays great football.  We have improved both physically and mentally and learned to play against these kind of opponent.  My team has been very focused in the training sessions during the 2 weeks break.  I am confident that we will see a performance which will enable us to grab the 3 points in play.

Question: Are you happy that finally the speculations on your future have ceased.  How did your team react to your decision to coach Bayern Munich next season?

Heynckes: Rudi Völler and Wolfgang Holzhäuser knew some weeks before that I would not extend my contract here.  It was good to let the team play those 4 matches (Villarreal-Mainz-Villarreal-Schalke) without knowing my decision.  Unfortunately we were eliminated in the Europa League, but against Mainz and Schalke we achieved two important victories in the league.  If you look at the reactions of my players in the press you can imagine that it was not easy for them. In these two years we have build a great relationship, it’s understandable that some were disappointed or surprised.  That’s why it was best to wait and announce my decision at the beginning of this 2 weeks break.  My players and staff had now sufficient time to process this news and will shift their full concentration to the next games.

Question: You said that you will focus on Bayer Leverkusen till the season ends and not answer any question on Bayern Munich.  Reading only the newspapers however it seems that you are already coach at Bayern.  How do you manage this situation?

Heynckes: You have to know the person Jupp Heynckes, his character and the values he defends.  I will not only focus 100% on Bayer Leverkusen, the emotional link towards the club will also not change.  Till the end of the season I will burn for Bayer 04.  I want to reach with my team the direct qualification for the Champions League.  We will achieve this because my team is strong and willing to reach this goal.  If you look back to March 1987 when I was coaching Mönchengladbach I also announced that I would leave to Bayern.  There were still 10 games ahead of us, we won them all.  Of course, you could say that the players were happy that I was leaving.  But it has more to do that they felt that nothing had changed.  The training sessions and my motivation continued to be as intensive as before.  With Bayer it will be the same, however I can’t promise 7 wins.  What I can promise that I will try everything possible to bring Leverkusen into the Champions League.

Question: How is Arturo Vidal? He was just running today…

Heynckes: Vidal and Kadlec played two games with their national team.  Yesterday both were recovering in the wellness area and today they had a light training session.  Both will join the team in the training session tomorrow.  All others players have trained to the full extent today.  Only M.Friedrich and Gonzalo Castro (knee problem) are injured.  Castro is feeling fine but the doctors have said that he should take it easy till next week.  He should be again available when we meet St.Pauli.

Line-up

Hyypiä has often been a question mark this season, according to the german media it’s also not sure whether he will add another year.  The Finnish player will take a decision at the end of the season.  It is possible that he will become a stand-by player or retire from active football.  Being a stand-by player involves him doing an apprenticeship at Bayer for the coaching license, train regularly and play when there is really a need for it because of injuries.  In case of retiring he could also decide switching Leverkusen for Finland or Liverpool to do his coaching license there.

Line-up Kaiserslautern (from Kicker):
Sippel-Dick,Abel,Rodnei,Jessen-Tiffert,Kirch-Rivic,Moravek,Hlousek-Lakic

Ballack will have to pay an 8.000 EUR fine for his “Scheiss FC Cologne” after the Schalke match.

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A good article on Heynckes and his conflict of interest: Link

Leverkusen have signed centre-back Ömer Toprak from SC Freiburg for the next season: Link

Match Preview: Bundesliga, Fixture 27, Bayer Leverkusen vs Schalke 04

Sunday, 20/03/2011 @ 15:30 (GMT+1)

As if the Europa League elimination wasn’t sufficient on its own, Bayer 04 could miss 5 players on Sunday:

  • Gonzalo Castro
  • Renato Augusto
  • Eren Derdiyok
  • Stefan Kiessling
  • Sami Hyypiä

They have all minor complications: muscular problems and swollen ankles or wades. Depending on today’s training they will be called up or not.

Schalke 04 will travel to Leverkusen without coach Magath who was fired during the week and has joined Wolfsburg a few days later.  Ralf Rangnick, ex-Hoffenheim coach this season, will take over the team on Monday.  The 2nd coach Josef Eichkorn will lead the Schalke Squad in the BayArena.  Good news is that Farfán (suspended) and Huntelaar (injured), two important attacking players will be not available.

I am not going to make any prediction on the line-up, there are just too many question marks.

Here is current prediction of Kicker

Leverkusen:
Adler – Schwaab,Reinartz,Hyypiä,Kadlec – Ballack,Rolfes – Sam,Renato Augusto,Castro – Kießling

Schalke 04:
Neuer – Uchida,Höwedes,Metzelder,Escudero – Kluge,Annan – Jurado,Edu – Raul,Gavranovic

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On Monday/Tuesday we will have a decision on whether Heynckes will continue or not for another season.  I will keep you posted on the social networks!

Match Preview: Europa League, Round of 16 (second-leg), Villarreal vs Bayer Leverkusen

Thursday, 17/03/2011 @ 21:05 (GMT+1)

A difficult task awaits the Werkself in Spain, winning by 2 goals or scoring at least 4 goals are needed to reach the next round. 

Coach Jupp Heynckes has decided to call up the entire squad for this away trip. Ballack should replace the suspended Vidal and in attack both Derdiyok and Kiessling are likely to play from the beginning.

Line-up Villarreal (from MARCA):
Diego López-Mario,Gonzalo,Marchena,Capdevila-B.Valero,Bruno-Cani,Cazorla-Nilmar,Rossi

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Most German media believe that Heynckes will announce next week (Monday or Tuesday) his move to Bayern Munich where he would sign a contract for 2 seasons (2011/12 & 2012/13) 

However an self-proclaimed “insider” on transfermarkt.de who in the past was right on a lot of Leverkusen’s transfers and coach decisions before they were made public says that no offer from Bayern Munich exists.  It would all come down to renewing for another year or putting an end to the coaching career.

Don’t know what to believe!