Bayer Leverkusen went into the second round second leg of the Europa League at FC Porto with a 2-1 lead from the first leg. Leverkusen take the competition very seriously.
Porto (dpa) - Rudi Völler has a clear target: not like last year. At that time the opponent was called FK Krasnodar and Bayer Leverkusen's exit in the Europa League intermediate round was more surprising than it would be against FC Porto.
Nevertheless, before today's game in Portugal (21.05 / DAZN), head of sport Völler gave the clear motto "that we want to go far in this competition, unlike last year". The chances of progressing are at least not bad after the 2-1 victory in the first leg. Nevertheless, according to Völler, Bayer has "extended all antennas".
PERSONNEL: Striker Kevin Volland is missing Leverkusen because of a syndrome tear until the end of the season. That's why Edeljoker Lucas Alario is even more important. In addition to Volland, coach Peter Bosz of the regulars only has to replace midfield strategist Charles Aranguiz because of a cold. In addition, wing racer Moussa Diaby could be recalled at any time because of the imminent birth of his child. Porto coach Sérgio Conceição did not reveal exactly who was missing. "But we won't have everyone with us," he said only. Defender Pepe, now 37-year-old Real Madrid star, is almost certainly missing as in the first leg.
WEEK OF TRUTH: Leverkusen has won six of the last seven competitive games. "We have a good run," said Bosz. But now a real week of truth lies ahead of Bayer. On Thursday and next Wednesday in the DFB Cup quarter-final against Union Berlin, knockout games are about to progress, in between there is the Bundesliga top game at RB Leipzig on Sunday. In fifth place, Bayer is only five points behind the second-placed Saxony. "In the Bundesliga we have found the Champions League places again and we have to take this momentum into the important knockout matches," Völler said.
ROTATION: Before the start of these hot weeks, Leverkusen was able to save energy and regain confidence on Sunday. In the 2-0 win against FC Augsburg on Sunday, Bosz spared five regulars. "He rotated wonderfully," Völler said: "It was a very important sign that you can use everyone and the level is maintained."
RETURN: Edmond Tapsoba only moved to Leverkusen at the end of January, before that he played for Leixões SC and Vitória Guimarães in Portugal for two and a half years. Now he is playing his first European Cup away game with Bayer in his old home. It was a special day, said the 21-year-old, who surprisingly quickly gained a regular place and pushed international Jonathan Tah onto the bench. "I never thought it would work so quickly," said the central defender from Burkina Faso, who has been on the pitch for 90 minutes in each of the last four games.
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