Tactics Journal

by Kyle Boas

Analyzing football tactics

Bayer Leverkusen are undefeated but vulnerable

Bayer Leverkusen’s 49 games unbeaten run is the longest in Europe in all competitions since the advent of the European Cup (1955) but the streak is at threat because they have been leaving men unmarked in the middle of the box during early crosses.

Figure 1.1 - Roma play an early cross from the right into the box, and two players are free in the center of the box.
Figure 1.2 - Free header in the middle of the box for Roma.

There’s a parting of the sea between the Bayer Leverkusen center-backs the past few matches I have watched them, since the West Ham Europa League match in April.

Figure 1.1 - West Ham early cross from the right with a free man in the center of the box.

Bayer Leverkusen are prioritizing the near and far post but there’s a general lack of organization when the ball is in this phase.

I think they should have the ball-side center-back, Piero Hincapié in most cases, give more or split priority to the player in the center of the box. That far-post should be covered but the near-post run isn’t as much for a threat as the center and far-post.

Figure 2.1 - Free man for Roma arriving into the center of the box as an early cross is played in from the right.

I don’t have a picture for every example of this happening but you can go back and watch for when the ball is in this area of the pitch, you’ll likely find an unmarked attacker in the center of the box.

It should be “easy” for future opponents to spot this space and score.

This is one of their only flaws, that can be exploited, in this perfect season. It would be unprecedented if they managed to go an entire season unbeaten and complete the treble. Regardless if they do or not, this is one of the most memorable teams I have ever watched.

Match: Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 (4-2) Roma, 9 May 2024

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