Later today we’ll play what figures to be our toughest fixture of the group stage of this year’s Champions League. We’re on the road in Germany against Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen. We talked briefly about Leverkusen yesterday, but here are a few short things to watch for today:
- Leverkusen often play something of a 4-2-4 which allows more pressing of the opposition central defenders. Watch for how Jan Vertonghen and especially Eric Dier handle that pressing.
- Leverkusen like to win the ball and shoot quickly. This leads to a high volume of shots but not necessarily the highest in quality. Think AVB Spurs, but not patient and thus not as boring.
- Their midfield two is very light—Kevin Kampl and Charles Aranguiz. If Mousa Dembele is fit enough to play, this could be a good day to throw Wanyama and Dembele at them instead of the 4-1-4-1 Poche has preferred lately. (I expect we’ll see the 4-1-4-1 again, to be clear, but I think if there is a case for 4-2-3-1 it’s that we can outmuscle Leverkusen in midfield.)
This Leverkusen team isn’t as extreme as Schmidt’s first squad, which included Son Heung-Min, but it’s still one of the more quirky, interesting teams in European football. It should, one hopes, make for a fun match.
On to the links:
America’s next big soccer market could be Omaha, NE.
Yesterday’s Northwest Derby was... not a classic.
FC Koln are this season’s unlikely UCL contender in Germany. We’ll have to wait and see if they have more staying power than Hertha Berlin did last season.