Leverkusen's start to the season has been a flop. They've lost their first two games and look hopeless. After defeat to Wolfsburg, Leverkusen's keeper has rubbed salt in the wound by saying the basics are missing.
Bayer Leverkusen's players looked perplexed after their 3-1 home defeat to Wolfsburg. Goalkeeper Ramazan Özcan, who allowed the opposition back into the game after a mistake, looked particularly troubled. "It's really difficult to find the words at the moment," the keeper said to journalists after the game. Then the 34-year-old took a deep breath and said: "I'm missing the obsessiveness [in the team], the desire, the intensity. I'm missing the sheer desire to go out and win every challenge," the Austrian said.
As they did against Gladbach last week, Leverkusen started well and then lost their way. "We made a lot of simple mistakes and then conceded goals too easily," captain Lars Bender said. The team found no security in their leadership either as once again Heiko Herrlich's side let the game slip out of their hands.
Lack of determination
As a result, the pressure in Leverkusen is already tangible after just two games. "We have no points and now three quarters of the team will head off on international break," Özcan said. "I hope they come back healthy and ready to go."
Is a pattern emerging for Leverkusen? Already at the end of last season Leverkusen threw away qualification for the Champions League in the final few games. Then as today they lacked enough determination. In the decisive moments, Herrlich's side haven't rewarded themselves for their work - and there are reasons why too. "We lacked enough intensity in our challenges today," bemoaned Herrlich afterwards. "We have to be far more compact in defense." A tackle success rate of just 42 percent in the first half was far too low, said Herrlich.
After the defeat to Gladbach, both head coach and players blamed individual mistakes and an inconsistent performance. This was a flaw that remained this Saturday. "Two defeats, zero points - that's not what we demand from ourselves," Herrlich said at the end of the press conference.
Özcan: "That's the past"
Leverkusen have a highly-praised and talented team. Players like Julian Brandt, Leon Bailey or Kai Havertz have huge potential, but only glimpses of it have been on show so far. Just as in the past, Leverkusen must make sure they don't spoil their season before it even really gets going. "We know we've started the season poorly. Let's leave the past in the past and let's get out of the situation together," Özcan said.
The keeper rejected comparisons to Leverkusen's catastrophic season two years ago when they were nearly relegated. In two weeks Leverkusen head to Munich. There's enough time between now and then to at least get the right attitude in place, because if Leverkusen play like this against Bayern, another defeat will be on the cards.