Xabi Alonso has really changed the course of Bayer Leverkusen after a very poor start into the season under Gerardo Seoane. Now they are back in the race for European spots, as they are currently 6th on the table and only four points behind the access to the Europa League.
Outcomes support Xabi Alonso, as Gerardo Seoane was in charge for the first eight games and was only able to pick up one win along with two draws and five defeats, which are very poor numbers for such a big club. On the other hand, Xabi Alonso took over in the 9th fixture and has won ten games since then, along with other two draws and five losses.
The truth is that Xabi Alonso’s start at Leverkusen was not that good, as despite they beat Shalke by 4-0 on his debut, they were unable to get victories in the next three games, where they fell to Eintracht de Frankfurt 5-1.
The revolution from the Spanish coach began in the 12th fixture, as the team was able to pick up five wins in a row starting from the 13th game, which is the time they got used to Alonso’s system and playing style.
His tactical display is based on a 3-4-3 draw that protects them defensively, as Leverkusen conceded 2.08 goals per game until the 12th fixture, and since then they only concede 0.87 goals per game.
Despite this three-man defense, Leverkusen are a very brave team, press upwards and put their defense forward, as they rely on the speed from their two young central defenders Piero Hincapié and Edmond Tapsoba.
They are a team built from backwards and stand out for their playing from backwards by Tapsoba who, according to FBeref, surpasses the 87% of the central defenders from the top five leagues making passes forward. However, sometimes he lacks strength on 50/50 balls.
Piero Hincapié also stands out at this aspect, as he surpasses the 98% of the European elite players at driving the ball forward. However, he is tougher on 50/50 balls than Tapsoba, which is why his level is higher and, as a result, he is on the list from several Premier League clubs.
Xabi Alonso’s Bayer 04 like to have the ball. They are the 6th team with the most ball possession per game in the Bundesliga and they look to take advantage of the speed from Jeremie Frimpong and Moussa Diaby, which are both the top scorers of the team with seven and eight goals, most of them scored thanks to their speed.
They are both among the six faster players in the league and surpass the 36 kilometers per hour. They are currently the most attractive players of the roster to be traded along with Florian Wirtz.
Diaby is a very fast left winger that has ability to score and usually plays in his natural side in order to make runs, where he is almost unstoppable. In the case of Frimpong, we are talking about a very offensive full-back or winger.
He is having an outstanding season. He is already wanted by many big European fishes at the age of 22 and his stats prove why as, according to FBref, the Dutchman surpasses the 99% European elite full backs at scoring goals, progressive driving and successful dribbles. No doubt that he is one of the best wingers of the season.
Other key pieces are Robert Andrich, winner of 50/50 balls in the midfield and a key player at recovering the ball, and Florian Wirtz, a player that usually acts as a second striker by Diaby in that 3-4-3 system and who is already showing greta conditions at the age of 19.
The German is one of the best assistants in Europe and, despite having missed half of the season due to a serious injury, he surpasses 99% of European offensive midfielders in both successful dribbles and assists, the 97% at progressive passes and 92% when creating shooting chances, which are stats that prove that we are ahead of a player to keep an eye on.
Bayer Leverkusen count on a young and brilliant roster. To the mentioned names, we must add the absence of Patrik Shick and the young Czech striker Adam Hlozek, who has really increased his level since the arrival of Xabi Alonso.
We will see how this summer goes for both the players and the coach. If they manage to keep most of them, we are ahead of a very interesting program.
Translated by Guillermo Bermejo.
Main image: @bayer04_es.