Bayer Leverkusen will no doubt have higher aspirations than their current position, 7th, would suggest. The Bundesliga outfit currently see themselves just three points behind Schalke (who sit in fourth place), yet they are currently on course to qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League along with Barcelona.
One player that has been an overwhelmingly key part of their campaign so far is central midfielder Lars Bender. The 26-year-old has so far made 9 appearances during the campaign for the former Uefa Cup (now Europa League) champions, putting in commendable performances in each and every one of those games.
Statistics show that with Bender in the heart of the midfield, Leverkusen haven’t as of yet conceded more than one goal in any game. Whereas without the German international, the goals against have been coming through much more frequently than they’d like as score lines such as: 4-4 against AS Roma and 4-3 against Stuttgart would suggest. This evidently displays just how vital Lars Bender is to the Bundesliga outfit. Bender constantly sits in the centre of midfield and often just in front of the defence in order to deal with the counter attacking threat of certain teams.
The central midfielder fits in extremely well with both the system and the squad which Bayer 04 possess. The reason behind this is that he will constantly look to win the ball back when his team are out of possession and then look to quickly lay it off to one of the players around him. Leverkusen are gifted with a creative midfield containing the likes of: Hakan Calhanoglu, Karim Bellarabi, Julian Brandt etc. whom will regularly look to then move forward quickly whilst the 26-year-old will sit back. Therefore, not only does having him in the team offer a defensive option, it also allows for a quicker and smoother transition from back to front because the attacking midfielders can sit slightly higher up the field.
Leverkusen’s captain tops the ‘tackles per game’ stat within the Bundesliga and is fourth in the ‘highest average rating’ charts; thus enforcing just how consistently he has been performing for his club during the 2015/2016 campaign.
Unfortunately, injury has struck Bender once again and so after missing the Wolfsburg game on Saturday, he’s doubtful for both the Champions League tie and the derby against Cologne. Whether or not he can put that behind him and pull together a string of more consistent performances remains to be seen.
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