Leverkusen prepare for Bayern test
Bayer Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia says his team must be at their best on Saturday if they are to replicate their success over Bayern Munich a year ago.
Bayern’s only domestic defeat in their historic 2012-13 campaign was the 2-1 loss at home to Leverkusen on October 28, and Pep Guardiola’s men are currently on a run of 32 Bundesliga games unbeaten.
The European champions have been in commanding form, taking Manchester City apart 3-1 in the Champions League this week, but they are just one point ahead of third-placed Leverkusen in the table ahead of this weekend’s meeting at the BayArena.
Hyypia, however, knows the only way to record a result against Bayern is to “perform at 100 percent in all positions”.
Leverkusen, despite their excellent start, have yet to top form in the Champions League, losing to Manchester United on the opening day before recording a slightly fortunate 2-1 victory over Real Sociedad on Wednesday courtesy of Jens Hegeler’s last-gasp winner.
Hyypia added: “It won’t work if we commit the same mistakes we did during the second half on Wednesday.”
Leverkusen holding midfielder Stefan Reinartz told kicker he is hoping his side can show they are capable of keeping pace with Bayern and table-toppers Borussia Dortmund.
“On Saturday, we can see whether we will have to look over our shoulder or whether we can maintain a three-horse race in the Bundesliga,”he said.
Club captain Simon Rolfes, meanwhile, said last weekend’s 2-0 win against Hannover and Wednesday’s win over Sociedad had been his side’s “duty” but success over Bayern would be a “bonus”, adding: “We are looking forward to a match on the highest level.”
Hyypia could make a few changes to his defensive line-up for match, with former Bayern man Emre Can an option for the left-back position, with Poland international Sebastian Boenisch having looked shaky in recent games. Guilio Donati could return at right-back to face Franck Ribery, who, since picking up the UEFA Player of the Year accolade, has continued to play in a league of his own.
Leverkusen hopes may rest with attacker Stefan Kiessling -- one of only two Bundesliga players, along with former Wolfsburg attacker Grafite, to have scored five goals against Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.