Bayer Leverkusen's 12-game Bundesliga progress report

Bayer Leverkusen's 12-game Bundesliga progress report

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The 2015-16 Bundesliga campaign commenced on the 16th of August, time has truly flown by since then and the 18 German clubs have endured  12 intriguing matches.

The fans have witnessed an early battle in the race for a finish among the European spots, Bayer Leverkusen in particular though, has produced surprising outcomes for the wrong reasons.

What is working?

Positive aspects surrounding the club have yet to fully translate on the table. Firstly, Roger Schmidt and his squad do not lack any creation whatsoever; in 12 matches 182 shots have been mustered. Leverkusen have dominated the vast majority of their matches, winning the possession statistics in nine of their domestic showings so far and boasting an average of 55.75% possession per match.

Youngsters Jonathan Tah (19), Julian Brandt (19) and Wendell (22) have received a significant amount of minutes on the field, showing a lot of promise in a dismal start to 2015-16.

Excellent recruitment in the summer transfer window has proved to be another positive sign for the German giants. Admir Mehmedi was acquired from SC Freiburg, where he scored just four goals in 26 starts. Under Schmidt, the Swiss international has found the net twice and has recorded two assists in the Bundesliga, while scoring on four occasions in the Champions League. Mehmedi is always vibrant and has stepped up on more than one occasion. Javier Hernandez and Kevin Kampl have also been two influencial signings.

Tah vies for the ball against Andre Schurrle of Wolfsburg
Johnathan Tah vies for the ball against Andre Schurrle of Wolfsburg

What is not working?

Too much has gone wrong for Leverkusen. the BayArena outfit lie in eighth with 17 points, just three clear of the 13th placed Darmstadt. In season 2014-15 they lost just seven matches, but the first 12 outings of this expedition have seen defeat five times – alarming signs for the club.

The exceptional amount of chances generated by Leverkusen is underminded by a lack of accuracy and composure. Of the 182 shots on goal, a shocking 64 have been on target, with an outcome of a measly 14 goals.

Despite some fantastic performances from Wendell and Tah, the defence has been a large thorn in the Leverkusen side, conceding 14 times in their last six-matches across all competitions. Within the last week, both Omer Toprak and Kyriakos Papadopoulos received red cards for awful challenges.

Schmidt is yet to settle on a consistent defence, Tah and Wendell have featured the most, while the other two positions up for grabs are usually tinkered with.

Best player so far – Javier Hernandez

Honourable mentions go to to Tah, Mehmedi and Kampl, but fan favourite Hernandez has been exceedingly more pivotal for his new side and has impressed to the extent of transfer speculation linking him to Chelsea.

The vigarous Mexican has gifted Leverkusen with a new dimension, constantly making runs to maneuver himself into worthy positions. Four domestic goals and another four in the Champions League commends his qualities. ‘Chicharito’ has also been significant for Leverkusen on a marketing scale, the public simply adore him.

Hernandez arrived at the BayArena with one thing in mind, quality game time. So far it appears the 27-year-old has attained his major priority. He is also relishing the chance of playing European football again.

Making the net bulge on eight occasions in his previous six matches, it seems like he has resurrected his clinical form. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid hitman will undoubtedly play a huge role in any potential Leverkusen success throughout this campaign.

What is next?

In the months to come circumstances could improve for Leverkusen, their current form slump might just be the one bad patch of their 2015-16. At this stage in the prior season they were fourth with 20 points.

This campaign is far from over and vital clashes await in both the Bundesliga and Champions League. Two clashes each with Gladbach and Schalke, plus visits to the BayArena from Dortmund and Wolfsburg await domestically, while meetings with BATE and Barecelona close out the European group stage.

The bulk of those key match-ups are home meetings, something Leverkusen must take advantage of, however, the continental outings will determine their fate in the competition. The remaining fixtures are against top four threats. Significant emphasis must be implemented on finishing and defending if Leverkusen are too succeed in these matches.

Schmidt has a brilliant squad at his disposal, the most important players in Hakan Calhanoglu and Karim Bellarabi are still yet to find their groove, but new players, Hernandez, Kampl and Mehmedi have lifted along with the youthful Wendell and Tah. It cannot just be a handful carrying the team though and more must step-up if Leverkusen are to maintain their status among the Bundesliga’s elite.

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