Wednesday, 19 June 2019

A Sensational Season Story: Bayer Leverkusen

A season that started so disappointingly for Bayer Leverkusen ended with pure joy as the Werkself secured a place back at Europe's top table. Leverkusen struggled for much of 2018 but a change in management and playing style worked a treat in 2019 as 11 wins in their last 17 games was enough to sneak into the Champions League places.

Leverkusen started the season woefully losing their first three league games. Inconsistency seemed to be their main issue under then manager Heiko Herrlich. But despite winning three of his final four league games in charge, the board made the switch in management and went for former Ajax and Borussia Dortmund manager Peter Bosz and the rest, as they say, is history. Bosz was brought in tasked to unlock the talent in the Leverkusen squad and push towards the Champions League places. Bosz unlocked the likes of Kai Havertz, Leon Bailey, Julian Brandt and many more of an underperforming squad. Bosz's reign began with a defeat against Borussia Monchengladbach but a thunderous victory against Wolfsburg saw the Bosz reign take flight. Of course, the change of manager was a risk but Bosz's reign thus far has certainly been a success and no doubt he will want to add to his squad in the summer and build on their impressive second half of the season.

Peter Bosz will no doubt be thanking his squad for adapting to his style of play and clearly, the players are pulling in the same direction which is no doubt pleasing the Leverkusen fans. One man who has sparkled under Bosz is attacking midfielder Kai Havertz. It has certainly been a breakthrough season for the young attacker who has glistened in the heart of the Leverkusen attack notching an impressive 17 goals as well as playing in every single game this season. Havertz has been sensational for Leverkusen and he can only get better going forward. Peter Bosz will be desperate to keep him this summer with interest expected to be high. However, one man they will lose this summer is the very talented and versatile Julian Brandt. The German winger has been brilliant once again for the club where he came through as a youngster. Brandt notched 7 goals and 11 assists for Leverkusen and his flair, creativity and trickery from the wings will certainly be missed next season. He leaves for Bundesliga rivals Dortmund after they activated his £22M release clause. Bosz will be disappointed to lose him but will no doubt have faith in the players who are still at the club. This includes Jamaican winger Leon Bailey who is lighting up the Bundesliga with his deadly pace and pure skill on the wings. While his goal tally isn't the greatest having scored just 5 Bundesliga goals this season, he is a difficult player to deal with and when on form, he is unstoppable. Bosz has certainly got a tune out of him during 2019 and Bosz will be hoping he stays at the club. Another man winning admirers across Europe is Germany's Under 21's captain Jonathan Tah. The centre back has been rock solid this season for Leverkusen. He dominance in the air and physical presence has made him extremely difficult to get past. Tah improved as the season progresses and he will be aiming to carry that form into the new season.

It isn't just the young guns impressing for Leverkusen as certainly, the more experienced players have played their part in Leverkusen's terrific season. Goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky has been a terrific signing from Eintracht Frankfurt. Finland's number 1 has been excellent in his debut season at Leverkusen conceding just 21 goals. The Bender brothers have also been fantastic. Another man impressing is defensive midfielder Julian Baumgartlinger. The Austrian has been tremendous in the heart of the Leverkusen midfield breaking down play and starting attacks for Peter Bosz's team. Another man who enjoyed an excellent season was Kevin Volland. The versatile forward enjoyed his best scoring season for the club since arriving from Hoffenheim. The forward notched 14 league goals and set up 9 others as he played a huge role in Leverkusen's season of success. The forward has thrived under Peter Bosz with the shackles firmly off his feet with Bosz preferring an attacking 4-3-3 setup. He has certainly staked a club for the main forward position in the German national side and no doubt he will be hoping to carry his form into the new season.

A big summer lies ahead after a fantastic season with interest in their players high but Bosz will be confident enough to say he can keep this team together despite losing Julian Brandt. Bosz has already added to his squad with Keram Demirbay and Moussa Diaby signed up for next season. Bosz will certainly look to strengthen his squad more as the Champions League beckons for his team but he will reflect on his first six months at Leverkusen as a massive success. The Champions League is on the horizon for Leverkusen after a tremendous 2018/19 and no doubt they will be ones to watch next season.

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