Source: China State Council Information Office
Ahead of the Bundesliga’s last matchday of 2020, Bayer Leverkusen’s surge to the top of the table means the reigning German champions Bayern Munich have an additional championship rival.
The Bundesliga’s only unbeaten team have joined RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund in trying to oust the 2020 treble winners.
This Saturday provides the opportunity for Dutch coach Peter Bosz’s team to secure their lead in the home game against Bayern.
For decades, the 1988 UEFA Cup and 1993 German Cup winner’s role has been to develop young talents from all over the world and act as a supplier for Europe’s top dogs.
After minor changes have significantly affected the team’s game, the club claims to be ready to take on top German sides such as Leipzig, Dortmund and Bayern, and be part of Europe’s elite.
Leverkusen have found new stability combining a solid defense and a dynamic attack, and it is all down to Bosz. This season the side have only lost one game in all competitions (1-0 to Slavia Prague in the Europa League).
Today’s Leverkusen is still the Leverkusen of youngsters like Florian Wirtz (17), French under-21 international Moussa Diaby, and Burkina Faso-born Edmond Tapsoba (21), who are said to have extended their contracts until 2024 and 2025. They are doing such a good job that the recently departed Kai Havertz (Chelsea) and Kevin Volland (Monaco) are hardly missed.
Former Guimaraes player Tapsoba has developed into one of the league’s leading defenders.
The last exam is waiting this weekend and it will provide hints as to just how ingrained the team’s improvements are.
The league’s second-best defense (10 goals against) and 12 games undefeated result from the back four operating deeper than last season. The full backs are also not so offensive.
Julian Baumgartlinger backs up the defense as a six, allowing midfielders and forwards to push forward. Another important factor is winger Leon Bailey’s improvement in a 4-1-2-3 system which has enabled Leverkusen to attack more down the flanks.
With Havertz in the side, Leverkusen’s approach relied on attacks through the middle, but it has now shifted to the wings. In the box, forwards such as Lucas Alario (8 goals) and Patrick Schick are always hungry to see passes and crosses coming their way.
Not only has the team has changed, their coach has as well. Bosz has turned from an idealist into a more pragmatic manager.
Unforgotten are his disappointing six months as Dortmund coach in 2017. Two years later, Leverkusen director and former German international Rudi Voeller remembered the desire and gave the Dutch coach a second chance.
The former Ajax coach seems to be on his way to repairing his somewhat damaged reputation as far as German league football is concerned.
Driven by new-found success, Leverkusen have shown they have new ambitions on the international stage. “We want to win the Europa League and see good chances to be successful,” Voeller said.
21 goals in six Europa League games might tell the story.
The recent upsurge has increased the team’s ambitions on the national stage like the match against Bayern. “We need to discover our fighting spirit, but I’m convinced we can beat Bayern. We have the quality and the will to go for it,” midfielder Nadiem Amiri said.