Tuesday, 11 October 2016
Bayer Leverkusen have an intense playing style both on and off the ball the Bundesliga Fanatic website tells me. They suggest the German side play a 4-2-3-1 system initially, although this can vary, that moves to 2-4-2-4 when they use the high block press.
Two pressing teams going against each other should make for an interesting game. We have struggled with Liverpool's high press but thwarted Man City's attempt with ease.
The object of their high press is clear, it is the same with ours, you push your opponent to the wide areas of the pitch where it is deemed less danger comes from. Leverkusen try to expand the gap between the defensive midfielders and the attacking midfielders. The longer the pass to them the greater chance of an interception. They try and isolate a man on the ball and apply pressure with multiple players.
We will need to stay calm on the ball, something that wasn't always evident against Liverpool. We do like to have time at the back and showed against Manchester City that if you cut down that time you stop attacks. The high press on defenders thus becomes the best form of defence.
When Bayer Leverkusen lose the ball they try to win it back as soon as possible, they attack the opponent as soon as they have won the ball and force quick passing and movement, which requires agile thinking.
Like us they are mastering the art of most players cutting off the passing lanes when the ball is lost and a couple of players attack the ball retainer. Thus you are giving the man on the ball few options. While the players around the ball may look to be the only players active, in fact the whole team is active.
When they win the ball they attack in numbers and at speed so if we are using a 4-1-4-1 system we must be careful the four attacking midfield players don't get caught in front of the ball or we could be in trouble. We might revert back to 4-2-3-1 for this game.
They like to shoot quickly so we can expect to see plenty of shots from distance. A couple of stats from 2014 demonstrate the philosophy. That season they had attempted 62 shots within 7 seconds of winning the ball back, which was 20 more than any Premier League team and on 27 occasions they had been the first attacking move, only 18 the highest figure at that stage in this country.
It is a system that we will know all about given Son Heung-min was playing it a couple of seasons ago. The coach Roger Schmidt hasn't changed since then and nor has the system. Those figures give just a taste of what we can expect.
This game should be out toughest Champions League test to date.