Last weekend a 4-1 win against Eintracht Frankfurt, before that 4-1 against RB Leipzig – and now Bayern. Bayer 04 Leverkusen are in top form at the right time to catch out FC Bayern in the DFB Cup semi-final in front of their own fans. “Bayern are sure to be on their toes. We are full of confidence at the moment,” said goalkeeper Bernd Leno ahead of Tuesday’s cup tie (20:45 CEST, live ticker service in English).
The Rhinelanders have lost 3-1 to FCB twice in the current Bundesliga campaign. “But we produced good performances in both games,” said Julian Brandt, “I come from Bremen and there you say: Third time Bremen lucky.” Coach Heiko Herrlich added his team has made progress: “We’ve improved since our last meeting. Also it’s another competition but everything has to go right for us to get through to the final.”
The DFB Cup is especially valued by Leverkusen. 25 years ago (1993) they picked up their last trophy and since then they have been in the final in Berlin twice – and that’s where the Werkself want to return. In footballing terms Tuesday night is a matter of “life or death”, as Herrlich put it, “and we want to carry on living for a couple of weeks and go through to the final.”
“Wish Jupp all the best but…”
The Leverkusen head coach will probably be able to call on central defender Jonathan Tah tomorrow night. “I hope he will be available,” said Herrlich. Tah suffered a muscle problem in the warm-up for Saturday’s game against Eintracht Frankfurt and had to drop out of the line-up. Bayer are also without long-term injuries Joel Pohjanpalo and Wendell.
“We’ll give Bayern a run for their money,” said Bayer sporting director Rudi Völler. There will be no consideration given to the close relationship with Jupp Heynckes, who had two successful years at Leverkusen from 2009 to 2011, as Herrlich said with a smile: “I wish Jupp Heynckes all the best but we won’t do him any favours. If FC Bayern win the league and the Champions League then that’s okay too.”