Match Preview: Bayer Leverkusen vs HoffenheimBy: Saurabh | December 1st, 2011
I’d like to thank the brilliant Vampy who agreed to write this in depth look on our opponents for Friday. Enjoy!
Match Preview from Bayer Leverkusen Perspective
Resurging Bayer Leverkusen will welcome Big Stan’s Hoffenheim — who are win-less since their 1-0 victory against ‘Gladbach on 22nd of October — this Friday to kick-off match day 15 of Bundesliga season. Both teams look set to end the first half of the season as higher in the league-table as possible in terms of their respective expectations so that the start of second-half of the season can be less-panic and less catch-up football, and all.
Bayer Leverkusen season so far in Bundesliga
Defeat in season opener against Mainz at Coface Arena wasn’t the first loss of the season as Bayer Leverkusen started their season without some integral members of their squad, namely René Adler and Tranquillo Barnetta. If it wasn’t much of the misery, the back-up goal-keeper Fabian Giefer suffered concussion against Mainz and suddenly it looked like the end of the world for Leverkusen before the season even had started. The club acted instantly as everyone knew that Yelldell was a no-no after his nightmare against Dynamo Dresden in DFB-Pokal. Then Leno happened.
Clean-sheet debuting against Werder Bremen, Leno gave some impressive performances at the back that he would go on and accumulate two more clean-sheets against Stuttgart and Dortmund that eventually started the saga that what if this young lad moves to BayArena permanently — that saga just ended two days ago as Leno has completed a permanent move to Leverkusen, leaving King Adler with no option but to move somewhere else (his recent injury-list has deserted him big time but when he’s fit, there probably only few goal keepers who can better him on his day).
Coming back to the matches; Bayer Leverkusen’s second defeat of the season came in derby-encounter against Cologne in mid-September which they lost 4-1 and that was followed with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of mighty Bayern. It looked apparent by then that something’s not working at the heart-of-the-defense and Robin Dutt had to go with some changes and later he called upon Friedrich — who has been pretty impressive so far and has steadied the ship in many ways with his experience and has brought in some calmness at the back — to pair with Toprak. The defense problem is still a problem and Leverkusen have addressed this problem with a signing of hot defensive prospect Philipp Wollscheid who moves to Leverkusen in summer 2012.
After that defeat against Bayern, Leverkusen have lost only one (1-0 defeat against Schalke) match in the seven matches they have played since then. The match-day results in Bundesliga so far:
Mainz 2-0 Leverkusen; Leverkusen 1-0 Werder; Stuttgart 0-1 Leverkusen; Leverkusen 0-0 Dortmund; Augsburg 1-4 Leverkusen; Leverkusen 1-4 Cologne; Bayern 3-0 Leverkusen; Leverkusen 3-1 Wolfsburg; Gladbach 2-2 Leverkusen; Leverkusen 0-1 Schalke; Freiburg 0-1 Leverkusen; Leverkusen 2-2 HSV; Kaiserslautern 0-2 Leverkusen; Hertha 3-3 Leverkusen
Formation & Tactics:
Basically, Bayer Leverkusen play 4-2-3-1 but if the wind is blowing hot, Dutt kind of experiments between many other formations like 4-4-2 and sometimes 4-1-4-1. Despite having the likes of Schürrle and Sam on the wings with the support of Kadlec and Castro from the back, Leverkusen prefer to unlock the teams through the middle. The likes of Rolfes and magnificent Lars Bender in the middle of the park with Michael Ballack just behind the striker, it tells the tale of why is it so. Bayer Leverkusen like to have most of the ball-possession and have mostly out-muscled the opposition when it comes to ball-contacts in matches.
The defense after Friedrich’s inclusion looks calmer and the midfield have performed so well over the course of the season under the visible leadership of Michael Ballack while the only concern which grew as the season progressed was the misfiring attacking threat. When almost half-of-season has passed and the likes of Schürrle and Sam, who have 2 and 3 goals to their names respectively, find it difficult to hit the back of the net then surely you begin to feel that it could have been much better. We are not even putting Renato Augusto and Barnetta in this equation as they are sidelined with knee-injuries.
Kießling has three goals to his names as yet and looks shadow of his past but still is very important for Leverkusen. This all brings us to one man who has been ‘an assassin’ in recent weeks in front of the opposition goal. With five goals under his bag, Eren Derdiyok has started to heal the goal-famine of attacking-front on his own. Putting in some impressive performances, Eren Derdiyok looks to have a season to remember as things have started clicking in his way and the man hasn’t disappointed in past few weeks.
- Since the promotion of Hoffenheim in 2008 to Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen have never lost against them.
- Making some awesome comebacks and impressive wins down the road, Leverkusen have been slight weaker in contrast at home this season.
- Of all the Friday matches which Leverkusen have played this season, they have won all of them.
- Adler, Barnetta, and Augusto are long-term absentees but Toprak won’t be available for this match as he suffered an injury against Hertha Berlin while Balitsch remains doubtful