Bayer Leverkusen have become out to be one of the strongest and most versatile teams of the 2019/20 Bundesliga season. Bayer’s challenge for a Champions League spot comes, largely, as a result of Peter Bosz’s adaptable tactics and Leverkusen’s very talented squad of players. Here are the tactics and formations that have defined Die Werkself this season.
Peter Bosz’s style and philosophy
Bayer Leverkusen’s results may be a surprise to many, but the man who seems to have contributed the most to this upswing in form, in the 2019/20 season, is Peter Bosz.
The list of teams that Bosz has coached is lengthy. With a unique vision, centered around aggressive, attacking play, the manager has earned plenty of plaudits but has also amassed a fair deal of critics.
Peter Bosz’s profile sky-rocketed after the 2016/17 season in which he guided Ajax Amsterdam to the final of the Europa League. His tactics favoured the merits of using young, enthusiastic players. Many of the youngsters that Bosz helped nurture, would soon make a name for themselves on the international stage. These include Matthijs de Ligt, Hakim Ziyech, Kasper Dolberg, Frenkie de Jong, or Donny van de Beek.
Next, Peter Bosz opted to transfer to Borussia Dortmund. It was a high-profile job meant to propel the manager’s profile even higher up the managerial totem pole. But, Peter Bosz’s time at Dortmund ended in disappointment when he was sacked and replaced by manager Peter Stoger., halfway through his first season.
Bayer Leverkusen’s tactics and formation
The tactics employed by Bayer Leverkusen during the 2019/20 season have been predicated on versatility. This has helped the team remain adaptable to different types of opponents. Yet, it has also backfired on occasions, such as the team’s recent home defeat, 4-1 to Wolfsburg, where the 3-4-3 with Kai Havertz in attack and Edmond Tapsoba wider than usual, backfired against Leverkusen.
Bosz took on the managerial job at Bayer Leverkusen FC at the end of last season. Against expectation, he managed to secure the team a fourth-place finish. The good form spilled into the current campaign. By the time the 2019/20 season had been put on hold, Bayer was on a great run having won nine out of their last ten games.
Peter Bosz’s chosen formation for Bayer can change slightly from game to game. The standard formula is 4-2-3-1. But, Leverkusen has also lined up in a 4-4-1-1, 3-4-3, 3-4-2-1, and, recently in 4-3-3 formation.
Leverkusen’s youngsters are ready to take on the world
The adaptability is facilitated by the fact that many of Bayer’s most important players are capable of playing in different positions. For example, Kevin Volland is normally a striker, but can also play as winger. Karim Bellaraby can play both as a wing-back and winger. And, Kai Havertz, has been played in a variety of positions, from False Nine, to midfielder, or even forward.
Leverkusen FC’s style is based on dynamic, attacking football. Bayer 04’s core of young players spare no amount of energy in either attacking or defensive situations. Bosz’s players are expected to play quick, creative football, and to take more risks when developing attacks.
Yes, Peter Bosz’s tactics offer him a lot of freedom to change player duties and formation. However, little of this would be possible without the very strong group of players that make up the squad.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s attacking style
Peter Bosz’s attacking mentality is built around his most important players’ greatest strengths. It’s one of the reasons why players like Kai Havertz, and, Julian Brandt, last season, were often required to change position to a role in the central midfield area. For example, Havertz’s strengths were emphasized first when he played as a central midfielder, later transitioning to a more attacking role, in 2020.
Leverkusen is one of the best teams in the Bundesliga in terms of possession. Bosz instructs his players to build from the back. Central defenders, Sven Bender, Jonathan Tah, or Aleksandar Dragovic will advance with the ball, usually shadowed by a wing-back offering superiority.
Kai Havertz will usually drop down to the center of the pitch, where he was played last season, in a bid to overload the area. Charles Arranguiz will act a pivot, while the wide players on the opposite side of where possession is kept will advance in a bid to encourage longer passes.
In the final phase of attack, Leverkusen act as quickly as they can, creating triangle shapes, and looking for numerical superiority in areas where the ball is played. In the last third, Bayer’s players will play the ball forward, with, typically, either Kevin Volland, or Havertz cutting inside to meet the pass.
Bayer Leverkusen in defense
Peter Bosz demands that his players press high up the pitch, as soon as the ball has been lost. When successful, this approach causes the opposition to have to pass the ball back, or vertically.
It has also proved risky, with vertical passes getting the best of Leverkusen’s defenders on more than one occasion. This is also partly due to the team’s width. This encourages attacking avenues, but it means that a smaller group of players will be left to mark and defend when the opposition is on line to attack.
The Bundesliga is more disputed than ever before it seems. Bayern Munchen, Bayer Leverkusen, RB Leipzig, Schalke 04, or Borussia Dortmund are all noteworthy football clubs. The 2019/20 version of Bayer Leverkusen is, without a doubt, one of the best versions the club has seen in years. Peter Bosz’s side has all it takes to achieve great things, but it remains to be seen how long they can continue with the same roster, the same manager, and the same brand of competitive football.