Bayer Leverkusen had a successful campaign last season, jumping from 12th the previous year to 5th, thus qualifying for Europe. They also had a good run in the DFB Pokal, eventually bowing out 6-2 to Bayern Munich.
The emergence of Leon Bailey and Lucas Alario was a notable aspect, while the Bender brothers looked well in control throughout. Julian Brandt further solidified his name as one of Germany’s brightest prospects and Kai Havertz continued his development at a brisk pace.
Managerial Background – Heiko Herrlich
Heiko Herrlich’s first season at the Bayer Arena was a resounding success. The former Bayer player had a relatively unspectacular CV prior to that, but his work in Leverkusen has been applauded widely. His insight into developing young players like Brandt, Bailey and Havertz has been immense. He’s instilled an aesthetic and effective style, and will look to push his team into the top 4 position next season.
Berndt Leno is the only big name departure, while Stefan Kiessling’s retirement was met with wonderful fanfare. Lukas Hradecky has been brought in as Leno’s replacement, while teenager Paulino arrives from Vasco da Gama as a top prodigy.
Mitchell Weiser comes in to provide solutions for the club regarding the doubtful nature of Benjamin Henrichs. But the biggest win for Bayer is retaining their top young talents Brandt and Bailey.
Bayer are expected to have a similar season as last, with the Europa League providing a challenge for both the squad as well as the manager. Despite the added strength in attack (Paulinho) and further stability at the back (Weiser), Bayer will most probably end up matching last year’s performance.
Borussia Dortmund have been shrewd in the transfer market and have balanced the squad and Lucien Favre looks like a good fit for them. Leipzig remain a very talented young squad, despite the departure of Naby Keita and Heffeinham will look to give the outgoing Julian Nagelsmann a good sendoff.
All in all, Bayer are well set to finish in the top 6.
Strongest XI (4-2-3-1)
Hradecky – Wendell, S. Bender, Tah, Henrichs – Aranguiz, L. Bender – Brandt, Havertz, Bailey – Alario.