Germany international winger ANDRE SCHUERRLE (9) of Bayer 04 Leverkusen, the expensive summer signing from FSV 05 Mainz who cost 8.0 million Euros, skips past the challenge of England World Cup fullback ASHLEY COLE during the recent UEFA Champions League Group E match at Stamford Bridge in west London; Schuerrle is suspended and will not play this Saturday against Bayern Munich in Bavaria.
The early going of the 2011-12 campaign has proved itself to be a regular roller coaster ride for BAYER 04 LEVERKUSEN and in-coming trainer ROBIN DUTT. The Werkself blew a three goal advantage while bowing out 4-3 to Dynamo Dresden in the D.F.B. Pokal and dropped their Bundesliga opener to FSV 05 Mainz, as well. But then Bayer Leverkusen put together a four-game unbeaten run featuring three victories and a tie with the defending champions to restore confidence amongst the faithful in North Rhine-Westphalia.
However, a shutout loss to FC Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League coupled with the surprising 4-1 defeat at home to lowly 1.FC Koeln last week leaves the Werkself, who have been battling injuries all season long, stuggling yet again and facing the prospect of a third consecutive failure against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in Bavaria.
Bayer Leverkusen are hoping STEFAN KIESSLING can recapture the form that saw the Germany World Cup reserve striker finish second in the Bundesliga with a career-high 21 goals for the 2009-10 campaign. Kiessling had health issues last term and netted just seven goals in 22 league games for the Werkself. This season, the 27-year-old has netted twice in the first six Bundesliga matches for Bayer Leverkusen.
Competing for a place as the central attacker in the Bayer Leverkusen Startelf is Switzerland World Cup striker EREN DERDIYOK, whose production also took a nose-dive a year ago. After notching a 12 goals in 33 Bundesliga games (32 starts), the 23-year-old slumped to six goals in 32 league game (18 sts) for the Werkself over the 2010-11 campaign. Derdiyok, who has registed one goal this season, displaced Kiessling up front in the first two matches for Bayer Leverkusen but was then dropped before being restored to face 1.FC Koeln last week.
One-time Germany U-21 international winger SIDNEY SAM (18) of Bayer Leverkusen, who is tied for the club lead with two goals Bundesliga goals this season, dribbles away from 19-year-old Germany international midfielder MARIO GOETZE of defending league champion Borussia Dortmund during the Bundesliga match earlier this season at the Bay Arena in North Rhine-Westphalia; Sam is listed as doubtful for the match with Bayern Munich this weekend.
Bayer Leverkusen took the cash this summer and sold talented Chile World Cup midfielder ARTURO VIDAL, who led the Werkself with 10 Bundesliga goals last term, to Italian Serie A side Juventus of Turin for a transfer fee of 10.5 million Euros.
After breaking out with 15 goals in 33 Bundesliga games for FSV 05 Mainz last season, 20-year-old Germany international winger ANDRE SCHUERRLE was snapped up by the Werkself this summer; although youngster has scored three goals on his last four appearances with trainer Joachim Loew’s national team and also struck on his debut in the D.F.B. Pokal against Dynamo Dresden, Schuerrle has yet to find the back of the net in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen.
23-year-old winger SIDNEY SAM scored 12 goals in all competitions for Bayer Leverkusen last season, but may join a few others on the sidelines. 26-year-old Switzerland World Cup midfielder TRANQUILLO BARNETTA, who has collected 59 caps while scoring eight goals for his country, and 20-year-old Colombian MICHAEL JAVIER ORTEGA, a summer signing out on loan to the Werkself from Mexican side CSD Atlas de Guadalajara for the season, are both out after undergoing knee operations. And, much like Sam, the 34-year-old veteran Germany international midfielder MICHAEL BALLACK has been listed as doubtful for the match with his former paymasters in Bavaria.
Bayer Leverkusen’s soon-to-be 35-year-old midfielder MICHAEL BALLACK, who spent four seasons with Bayern Munich before leaving for English Premier League club FC Chelsea on a free transfer in the summer of 2006, ranks eighth on the all-time list for Germany with 42 goals scored from his 98 appearances for the national team.
29-year-old club captain SIMON ROLFES, who has earned 24 caps and scored one goal for Germany in his career, and 22-year-old LARS BENDER, who just recently made his debut for Deutschland by coming on as a second half substitute for Rolfes in the international friendly with Poland earlier this month, will anchor the defensive midfield for Bayer Leverkusen.
The versatile Brazil international RENATO AUGUSTO will be a key man in the middle of the park either on the wing or in the center this season for Bayer Leverkusen; the 23-year-old midfielder, signed from Brazilian outfit CR Flamengo for a transfer fee thought to be 10.0 million Euros in the summer of 2008, scored seven goals in the Bundesliga last season.
30-year-old HANNO BALITSCH, the well-traveled veteran with one cap for Germany and on his second tour of duty with the Werkself, might have a bigger role to play in midfield for Bayer Leverkusen against Bayern Munich on Saturday depending upon the formation of the team and the fitness of others.
Germany international defender STEFAN REINARTZ (3), the youth team product who was third on the Werkself with 29 starts in the Bundesliga last season, has been an ever-present on the back line in all eight matches contested by Bayer Leverkusen thus far this term.
Bayer Leverkusen suffered a blow before the season even began back in early July when Germany international goalkeeper RENE ADLER was injured in a Testspiel with Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg. The 26-year-old capped ten times by his country has been first choice between the sticks for the Werkself the past four seasons and appeared in 127 of a possible 136 Bundesliga matches in that span. As a result of his knee operation, Adler could be out as long as six months.
29-year-old United States international goalkeeper DAVID YELLDELL was bought by Bayer Leverkuksen from D.F.B. Pokal Finalist MSV Duisburg for the nominal fee of 250,000 Euros but the German-born netminder has not featured for the Werkself since the debacle against Dynamo Dresden in the German Cup. 21-year-old FABIAN GIEFER, who has been the back-up to Adler the past few seasons, started the Bundesliga opener for Bayer Leverkusen but also went down injured has been replaced by Germany youth international BERND LENO. The inexperienced 19-year-old out on loan for the season from Vfb Stuttgart has done well overall and became only the third goalkeeper to ever record shutouts in his first three Bundesliga contests.
22-year-old STEFAN REINARTZ, who earned his only cap for Germany a couple of seasons ago as a substitute against Malta, and 22-year-old OMER TOPRAK, the 3.0 million Euro summer purchase from SC Freiburg, have partnered each other in the center of defense for Bayer Leverkusen in every game of all competitions this season. GONZALO CASTRO, the 24-year-old with five caps for Germany, has started five games at right back for the Werkelf thus far. The regular left back is 26-year-old MICHAL KADLEC but the Czech Republic international (27 caps, 4 go) is suspended and will miss the match with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.
Former Germany U-21 international defender DANIEL SCHWAAB deputized for Kadlec last week against 1.FC Koeln but the 23-year-old is another player whose fitness for this Saturday is reportedly in question; with 22-year-old BASTIAN OCZIPKA also out injured, the 18-year-old DANNY DA COSTA could make his Bundesliga debut for Bayer Leverkusen on defense against mighty Bayern Munich.
19-year-old Germany youth international goalkeeper BERND LENO (23) of Bayer Leverkusen leaps in between a pair of senior internationals for the Werkself, striker STEFAN KIESSLING (11) and defender STEFAN REINARTZ (3), to punch the ball clear against FC Augsburg during the Bundesliga match at the SGL Arena in Bavaria earlier this season.
BAYER 04 LEVERKUSEN
gk – David YELLDELL – United States int’l ——- fr MSV Duisburg
gk – Bernd LENO ———————————————- fr Vfb Stuttgart
df – Constant DJAKPA – Ivory Coast int’l ——— fr Hannover 96
df – Omer TOPRAK —————————————— fr SC Freiburg
df – Bastian OCZIPKA ————————————– fr FC St. Pauli
mf – Marcel RISSE ——————————————- fr FSV 05 Mainz
mf – Andre SCHUERRLE – Germany int’l ——— fr FSV 05 Mainz
mf – Burak KAPLAN – Turkey ————————- fr SpVgg Greuther Fuerth
mf – Zvonko PAMIC – Croatia ————————– fr SC Freiburg
mf – Michael Javier ORTEGA – Colombia ——— fr Atlas de Guadalajara (Mex)
fw – Richard SAKUTA PASU —————————- fr FC St. Pauli
fw – Karim BELLARABI ———————————— fr Eintracht Braunschweig
(Djakpa had been out on loan at Hannover 96 since the start of the 2009-10 season, Oczipka and Sakuta-Pasu had been out on loan to FC St. Pauli of Hamburg since January of 2010, Pamic had been out on loan to SC Freiburg for the 2010-11 season, Risse had been out on loan to FSV 05 Mainz for the 2010-11 season, Kaplan had been out on loan to 2.Bundesliga club SpVgg Greuther Fuerth since January of 2011; Leno and Ortega are out on loan to Bayer Leverkusen for the 2011-12 season)
df – Sami HYPPIA – Finland int’l ———————- retired
df – Constant DJAKPA – Ivory Coast —————- to Eintracht Frankfurt
df – Domagoj VIDA – Croatia int’l ——————— to GNK Dinamo Zagreb (Cro)
mf – Arturo VIDAL – Chile int’l ————————- to FC Juventus Turin (Ita)
mf – Marcel RISSE ——————————————– to FSV 05 Mainz
mf – Burak KAPLAN – Turkey ————————– to JK Beskitas Istanbul (Trk)
mf – Zvonko PAMIC – Croatia ————————— to MSV Duisburg
fw – Richard SAKUTA PASU —————————– to 1.FC Kaiserslautern
(Pamic is out on loan for the 2011-12 season)