In this Bayer Leverkusen season review, we will be taking a closer look at Die Werkself. Suffering a poor start to their campaign, Leverkusen faced an uphill battle to secure European football. Managerial changes, the race for Europe and young stars emerging, this season has been a rollercoaster ride for Leverkusen fans.
Bayer Leverkusen Season Review
Leverkusen’s start to the season was poor. In the relegation zone after matchday three, the team lost their opening three games of the new season. Conceding eight goals against Borussia Monchengladbach, Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich, the team was left dazed and confused. Using three different formations in those opening fixtures, manager Heiko Herrlich was still figuring his team out. In 18th place after the 3-1 loss to Bayern, the team would slowly climb the table. The only way was up for a young Leverkusen team. Losing just one game in their next five, Herrlich and his team appeared more settled. Settling on the 4-2-3-1 formation, Leverkusen found themselves in 13th. Picking up eight points from those fives games, the team was finally making some progress.
Winning another five games before the winter break, the club decided to make a change; a change that would impact the club massively. Firing Heiko Herrlich, the club brought in former Borussia Dortmund manager Peter Bosz. Herrlich left the club in ninth place, a good starting point for Bosz. Brought in to secure European football, Bosz and his possession-based attacking style of football was seen as the way forward at the club.
With Bosz now in charge, the club’s main goal was clear. Securing European football was Leverkusen’s goal from day one, Bosz was tasked with delivering that goal. Losing his first game, Leverkusen outplayed their opponents. Beaten 1-0 by Gladbach, Leverkusen were the better team. Winning the possession battle and creating more chances, this was the first example of Boszball going wrong. Already under pressure, Bosz would quickly answer his critics, as Leverkusen won four games in a row.
The team were now fifth and the club were closing in on a top-four finish. However, Bosz was about to experience his toughest spell since taking over. Losing four of their next six games, Leverkusen dropped back down to ninth. A team that had been battling all season long, Leverkusen and Bosz needed a near perfect end to the season. Bosz not only delivered European football, but Leverkusen ended up in fourth, securing Champions League football against all odds. Leverkusen went unbeaten in their final six games, scoring 19 goals in the process.
The Emergence of Bravertz
Two crucial members of the team, Kai Havertz and Julian Brandt, played a key role this season. Young, versatile and constantly improving, both players emerged this season as invaluable options for both managers. Benefitting from a role change, Brandt was moved more centrally, making him more effective. Playing as a winger, Brandt contributed two goals and three assists in 15 games. Underwhelming numbers for such a talented player, Brandt made the switch to attacking midfielder, playing 18 games in that role. The 23-year-old German performed much better, contributing five goals and ten assists.
Establishing himself as one of the best youngsters in the world, Havertz became a key player for Leverkusen this season. Only 19-years-old, Havertz contributed 17 goals and four assists. Thriving under both managers, the talented German is big, fast and versatile, making him difficult to defend. This duo played a vital role in Leverkusen’s recovery, scoring and creating goals in crucial games. As Brandt prepares to move on, the club also faces a tough battle to keep Havertz. Under contract until 2022, Havertz is the clubs most valuable player. Sporting director Rudi Völler knows his star duo will be elsewhere soon, but how the club adapts and invests in the coming years will be Völler’s toughest task.