After Matchday 11, Bayer Leverkusen sat atop the Bundesliga table with a 7-4-0 record, even out-pacing the mighty Bayern Munich. Now after Matchday 23, they sit at 6th in the table with a 15 point gap behind the leaders. The team has imploded, so why has this happened?
Back on December 15th, I did a piece looking at an xGoals analysis of each team. At that time, Leverkusen was undefeated on the season and led the league. At the time, I speculated that Bayer Leverkusen was actually overperforming their skill level, and deserved to be sitting at about 5th in the table. As expected, many teams have gradually regressed to where they should sit, and Leverkusen has been no exception.
Since the start of 2021, Bayer Leverkusen has won just two domestic matches and has had some pretty startling results. They have dropped points to sides fighting to avoid relegation such as FC Augsburg, Werder Bremen, and Mainz 05. They have also had several losses in that stretch, including a Europa League embarrassment losing 6-3 on aggregate to Young Boys and a DFB Pokal loss to Rot-Weit Essen, a club in the fourth tier of the German football system.
A painful night for Bayer Leverkusen— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) February 25, 2021
German involvement in the #UEL comes to an end.#B04YB 0-2 pic.twitter.com/pHoR4Qq3s7
To put in plainly, things have not gone to plan for a team that had real aspirations and was confident in their abilities heading into the winter break. While Leverkusen can surely be disappointed with their recent games, they aren’t necessarily in a worse position than they should be. The advanced stats show that they are a mid-table side and while that may be harsh, it is certainly hard to argue their poor form. Ever since that collapse against Bayern Munich before the winter break, they have been a shell of their former self. The fashion in which they lost that game certainly hurt their mentality going into the break and they have not been able to rediscover that quality.
Peter Bosz: "We are in a difficult phase, we are losing far too many games. We played better football than in the past few weeks, but the ball has to go into the goal at the end of the day. To not score a goal with 21 shots is just not enough."#B04SCF | 1-2 | #Bundesliga pic.twitter.com/uzpLY79Zqc— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) February 28, 2021
Many questions remain. How will Leverkusen fix their current form? With the season Leon Bailey is having, will he look to leave the club if they finish mid-table? And most importantly, will Leverkusen be able to save their season and qualify for European competition next season? Only time will tell, but I wouldn’t bet on it.