Bayer Leverkusen's form has dipped dramatically since their Celtic Park rout
When Bayer Leverkusen strutted out of Celtic Park with a 4-0 win in September, they looked like one of the most exciting teams in the competition.
Fast forward just over a month later and they’ve dropped down the Bundesliga and are now on a pretty dismal run of 2 wins in 8 games in all competitions.
Leverkusen followed up their 4-0 win against Celtic with the same scoreline at Arminia Bielefeld. However, a 5-1 home mauling to Bayern Munich brought them right back down to earth. Along came their recent mini-decline.
Gerardo Seoane’s side have since drawn in Cologne whilst also losing 2 more home matches against Wolfsburg and lower-league Karlsruher respectively. The former saw them only manage 1 shot on target whilst the latter crashed them out of the DFB Pokal.
Yesterday, they slipped up once again. They could only pick up a 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin, a game in which they required a last-gasp goal to save their skin.
Leverkusen have looked particularly dodgy from cross balls into the penalty area. It’s no surprise they only have 1 clean sheet in their last 7 games. That combined with the fact they’ve had struggles in dealing with a high press, and it’s clear Celtic can take some comfort.
Ange Postecoglou’s team, of course, head to Leverkusen after the international break knowing they need a result. A defeat and it’s likely advantage Real Betis in the race for second. But even when Leverkusen were performing at their peak level, they were still shipping plenty of chances.
Celtic need to take the game to Bayer Leverkusen from the start
In fact, the Hoops could easily have scored 3 or 4 themselves in that previous meeting at Celtic Park. Unfortunately, we just came up against an in-form Leverkusen on the night.
Bayer will host Bochum before Celtic arrive for matchday 5 of the Europa League. And despite previously threatening Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga when they visited Parkhead, Leverkusen’s dramatic slump sees them now only 3 points above the bottom half of the table.
Celtic, of course, know they can’t underestimate anyone. Leverkusen blew Betis away 4-0 on matchday 4. But even so, there are clear vulnerabilities there.
The best chance the Hoops have of getting a result is clearly to stick a high press on and look to threaten down the wide areas. 3 of Celtic’s 4 goals against Dundee yesterday came from that very tactic.
Bayer will still boast plenty of quality when Celtic pitch up. And with first place still to be confirmed, they’ll likely put their strongest team out against the Hoops.
But there’s no need to be fearful heading to Germany. Leverkusen are on a poor run of form, and Celtic have a major opportunity to enforce themselves on the game and take something, so long as we’re a lot more clinical this time around.