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History of Bayer Leverkusen

The Club

Could you guess the company whose employees founded Bayer Leverkusen in 1904?

Yep, the employees of Bayer, the famous German pharmaceutical company. Hence, the name Bayer was used and Leverkusen because the headquarters of Bayer is located there (makes sense, right?). It was only in 1999 that the club separated from the parent company, becoming an independent football club and being officially called Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fußball GmbH. Again, just in case you were wondering, 04 stands for the foundation year (1904).

Bayer04_Logo_Bayarena_1819_106891_XL

Now you see the logo of the pharmaceutical company too, right? I didn’t see it before writing this article.

Football Records

Die Werkself , a nickname given to Bayer Leverkusen which translates to “factory football club”, has only won three trophies, 2 domestic (German Cup in 1993 and German 2. Bundesliga in 1979) and 1 European (UEFA Cup in 1988).

Bayer never won a Bundesliga title but has been in the top tier since 1980 and in the last 20 years, Bayer was ranked, on average, 5th in the league which is quite impressive given the high competition for the top 6 positions (except the first one which was dominated by Bayern Munich). During that period, 11 different coaches oversaw Bayer Leverkusen with Peter Bosz as their current one.

Historical Ranking of Bayer Leverkusen (transfermkt)
Historical Ranking of Bayer Leverkusen (transfermkt)

In Europe, during the last 20 years, Bayer Leverkusen participated 10 times in the UEFA Champions League (UCL) exiting the cup either at the group stage or at the round of 16, except on one occasion when Bayer Leverkusen reached the final and lost against Real Madrid (what is the shortcut for the shocked emoji?). Leverkusen lost 2-1 against a Real with Zidane, Raul, Morientes, Figo, Roberto Carlos and Hierro. Bayer did have an impressive lineup back then with Neuville, Ballack, Basturk, Lucio, Berbatov and Kirsten.

UCL Final 2002 (fifa.com)

The Current Squad

Market Value and Transfer Market

According to transfermkt, the Bayer Leverkusen’s market value is 413 mil. €, which is currently fourth in the Bundesliga. The market value provided by transfermkt reflects the sum of player values and not the actual value of the club that includes revenues, brands, financial situation, etc. In one year, the market value doubled, which means that Bayer Leverkusen has been quite active lately on the transfer market.

Top 4 Bundesliga Market Value (transfermkt)
Top 4 Bundesliga Market Value (transfermkt)

Let’s have a look at who arrived and who left this summer. Bayer paid 61 mil. € for 4 players with 2 coming from TSG Hoffenheim (Kerem Demirbay, central midfield and Nadiem Amiri, attacking midfield) and 1 from PSG (Moussa Diaby, left winger) and 1 from Ajax (Daley Sinkgraven, left-back). Bayer lost two goalkeepers on free transfers and sold Julian Brandt, one of the most promising prospects, for only 25 mil. € to Borussia Dortmund. Julian Brandt is valued at least twice that price, but he had a release clause for the amount paid by Dortmund. Bayer also sold Dominik Kohr, a central midfield for 8.5 mil. €. This shows that apart from replacing Brandt with Demirbay, Bayer Leverkusen’s team is practically the same as last year with new additions.  

Bayer's 2019 Transfers (transfermkt)
Bayer's 2019 Transfers (transfermkt)

Current Form

Bayer is currently ranked 6th in the Bundesliga with 3 wins, 1 draw and a massive loss against Borussia Dortmund (4-0). Bayer played this Saturday against Augsburg away and won by three goals. Kai Havertz scored and assisted a goal, Kevin Volland scored one as well and Niederlechner, the Augsburg player, scored an own goal.

In Europe, Bayer Leverkusen lost against Lokomotiv Moscow (1-2) at home, which could be very problematic for them. Realistically, Bayer would aim to finish at least third, but with a loss at home to their direct challenger for that position, Bayer Leverkusen must step up against the big teams (Juventus and Atletico Madrid) to at least qualify to Europa League.

Fixtures

The Coach

Peter Bosz, a Dutch manager, was hired as the Bayer coach in December 2018 to replace Heiko Herrlich. Bosz started his coaching career in 2000 and had a small spell as a Director of Football with Feyenoord for a couple of years. In the last three years, he managed two other big clubs (Ajax and Borussia Dortmund). This actual caught my attention. His average term as a coach is about a year and a half (that is quite short). According to transfermkt, the 55 years old Dutch’s favorite formation is 4-3-3, a tactic used in most games last season. 

Bosz

Manuel Veth, a Forbes contributor, wrote the following while discussing Julian Brandt’s talent in his article: “One of the main reason for Bayer’s success? Peter Bosz’s decision to move Julian Brandt from the wing to central midfield. In fact, it might be the most effective switch in position since Louis van Gaal — like Bosz a former Ajax coach — moved Bastian Schweinsteiger from the wing to the number eight position back in the 2009/10 season.”

Bosz knows Matthijs de Ligt well and he actually handed him his senior debut. He said this about him in his pre-game press conference:

"At that time Matthijs was still young, but at the age of seventeen he was already a top player, really great. From my first day at Ajax I was told that I had to get him to the first-team. A huge talent, there are few like him."
Peter Bosz
Bayer Leverkusen Manager

Best Players

With the departure of Julian Brandt, all eyes are on Kai Havertz, the young, 20 years old, German prospect and future FIFA legend. Rumors of his sale gained a lot of momentum last summer and many still believe that he could end up at either Bayern Munich or join Brandt at Borussia Dortmund next season. Coming from a middle-class family, Havertz is not only talented but also very disciplined. Two years ago, Havertz did not join the team to play the UCL last-16 game against Atletico Madrid to focus on his exams. Sarri said this about Havertz on Monday:

“He is a player who combines excellent physical qualities with great technical skills. At the moment they are using him mainly as an attacking midfielder behind the central forward or as a winger. I think he is a complete player that could also play as a midfielder. He is a player born in 1999... with those qualities and with that personality it makes you think it is certain he will become... one of the most important players in Europe.”
Maurizio Sarri
Juventus Coach
SofaScore
SofaScore

Other players worth mentioning are Kevin Volland who scored 3 goals and provided 2 assists in the 5 Bundesliga games, Charles Aranguiz and Leon Bailey who provide creativity in the center.

Players Ratings in Bundesliga 2019-2020 (whoscored.com)
Players Ratings in Bundesliga 2019-2020 (whoscored.com)

Juventus vs Bayer Leverkusen

Probable Lineups

With Costa’s injury, Sarri has to pick a different tactic than his favorite 4-3-3. The fact that Aaron Ramsey has integrated so well in the team pushed Sarri to go with 4-3-1-2, placing Ramsey right behind the two strikers up front. There is no doubt that Cristiano will be picked but his attacking partner remains the mystery. Italian media predict that it will be Higuain instead of Dybala starting against Bayer. In the middle, we will see again the typical three (Khedira, Pjanic and Matuidi). It seems Rabiot is not well-integrated yet. In defense, Cuadrado will play as a right back again because both Danilo and De Sciglio are injured (don’t get me started on that topic). Sandro had to travel to Brazil due to the death of a family member but he was back training on Monday and will most likely start on the left (on that as well, I will not engage in a discussion). The two center defenders Bonucci (the captain) and de Ligt will play an essential role to make sure Juventus keeps a clean sheet (please at least one). Szczęsny, and not Buffon, will be our gatekeeper.

Juventus Lineup

Bayer will most likely play with the same tactics used during the last games in the Bundesliga with 4-2-3-1. Havertz and Volland will try to penetrate on both sides and shoot from outside the box. Leon Bailey will definitely miss the game and most likely Karim Bellarabi as well which is a big blow to Bayer. Their new signing Kerem Demirbay will most likely start from the bench.

SofaScore
SofaScore

Tactics

Bayer’s players are good at creating chances by through balls and prefer attacking on the right side (get ready Sandro and de Ligt). They are not very aggressive but are really good at scoring from set pieces and defending them. Defensively, they are not great, and they tend to commit individual errors. They also tend to fall in the offside trap. This is not an easy team as Sarri pointed out.

“Tomorrow will be difficult match against a very strong opponent. Bayer Levekusen is a team that holds the most possession throughout the Bundesliga, and they physical and they dribble with quality. We still have a lot of room for improvement. Our goal is to go all the way until the final in the Champions League, but it's a competition that can only be determined in certain moments. I am expecting a good result tomorrow. It will be a tough game and the first at home in the Champions League. Then we'll think about the next one."
Maurizio Sarri
Juventus Manager

Odds

According to BET365, the expected chances of Juventus winning is 65% and SofaScore predicts that Juventus actually wins 74% of the games with these odds. BET365 predictions indicate that Juventus would score in the first half, it would be the first team to score and that both teams would score.

SofaScore
SofaScore

At the end, I leave you with this video.

Fino Alla Fine!

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