Leverkusen probably without Wirtz and Schick to Budapest
Place 1 in Group G is already secured for Bayer 04 before their last Europa League match in Budapest. Consequently, coach Gerardo Seoane will throw on the rotation. An advantage with regard to the next league match at Eintracht Frankfurt.
It is a trump card that Bayer 04 have earned in the first five matchdays of the Europa League. While Eintracht from Frankfurt, who the Werkself will face on Sunday, still have to fight for group victory and thus direct entry into the last 16 at Fenerbahce Istanbul on Thursday, Bayer 04 have already made that step. A constellation that Gerardo Seoane will take advantage of.
“We will already change a lot, as much as possible,” the Leverkusen coach announced on Monday for the match at Ferencvaros Budapest on Thursday, which is completely meaningless in terms of the standings. In Hungary, the Swiss will spare as many regulars as the now relaxed personnel situation allows.
This will also lead to Andrey Lunev (30) making his debut for Bayer 04. The Russian national goalkeeper (seven appearances), who arrived from Zenit St. Petersburg on a free transfer in the summer, has already been allocated a place in the starting eleven by the Swiss. “As of today, we have discussed that Andrey will start this game,” explains Seoane, “he has always trained well and has also earned this chance.”
In addition, the coach can give his number 1, the Finnish national goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, some rest. “Lukas – you mustn’t forget this with national players – has never had time off. The others also have a break of two or three days during international matches, the national players are always travelling. All the stress is already a big burden,” explains Seoane.
Of course, this also applies to many other players who have been active for their country. Consequently, Seoane announces for the Budapest trip, which lasts from Wednesday to Friday: “It may also be that one or the other stays here.” And he is probably thinking primarily of his two key offensive players, Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick.
Schick not yet free of pain – Wirtz well-considered strain
Schick celebrated his comeback eight days ago in Leipzig (3:1) after tearing a ligament in his ankle with relatively little team training, and on Saturday he scored a four-pack in the 7:1 win against Fürth. But the centre-forward is not yet pain-free. Wirtz’s workload has to be distributed carefully, as the sophomore has been plagued by groin and hip problems since the beginning of the season.
“The idea with both players is to work towards Sunday, to reduce a little bit now, to work individually,” the coach explains, “it’s also chance we have to take so these players don’t get injured.” Seoane and Bayer will use this option, which they have worked out for themselves.