Champions League: Against Atletico, Leverkusen′s failure to launch continues | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 22.10.2019
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Champions League: Against Atletico, Leverkusen's failure to launch continues

After the first three games of their group, Leverkusen are last with no wins. A fair amount of possession and talented players on the field have not stopped them being left empty handed. In Madrid, it was the same story.

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Leverkusen, Wanda Metropolitano
(Morata 78')

With a draw seemingly within reach, Leverkusen conceded a somewhat predictable late goal that gave the hosts three points. The Bundesliga club delivered another performance that typified the club's unwanted status as a team full of promise that too often delivers far too little.

Lots of possession was accompanied with sloppy transitional play and no genuine threat on goal. There were passages of play in between the 10 and 20 minute mark were Leverkusen looked the better team. In the second half, there were a few attacking situations that looked equally dangerous, but either the final pass was off or an Atletico player was in the way.

In Madrid, Kai Havertz played in the central playmaking role. After a relatively quiet night in Turin, this was another chance to show Europe that he is capable of producing magic at this level too. Sadly for him, his teammates struggled to get the ball enough to him, or another talented playmaker Nadiem Amiri, in dangerous positions. That forced the pair to often drop deeper than they usually do, and ultimately left Leverkusen with more of the ball but seemingly little idea what to do with it. With 15 minutes to go, Havertz was replaced by Paulinho, a player who arrived with huge potential but has yet to realize it. It was another disappointing end to another European night for the 20-year-old.

Soon after, Atletico Madrid got the goal that perhaps neither side deserved but ultimately they were good enough to score. Alvaro Morata's header from a superb cross by Renan Lodi was the kind of chance Leverkusen can only dream of taking.

It is far to say that a lot has changed since Leverkusen were beaten in 10-2 on aggregate by Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League in 2012, but over the last decade, Leverkusen's European record still tells the same story of unrealized potential: Four last 16 and one group-stage exit in the Champions League, three Europa League knockout round exits (no deeper than last 16), and one year out of Europe. This club should be doing more by now than seeing the group stages as the end goal.

The defeat in Madrid leaves the Bundesliga side all but out of opportunity to make the knockout stages, which was never an expectation in a group with Juventus and Atletico. The real concern is that even the Europa League spot, currently occupied by Lokomotiv Moscow, looks beyond them. Failure to do so would be disappointingly fitting.

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