Kerem, after winning four league games in succession, you suffered the first reverse of the year in the 3-2 defeat at Mainz at Mainz last weekend. How have you dealt with that in terms of analysis and training?
Demirbay: It was clear to us from the start that Mainz would be defensive and aggressive. Unfortunately, we didn't succeed in being equal to or better than Mainz in certain areas – for example in relation to aggression and resolution. We also didn't make enough of our quality. So you have to say they were better than us on the day.
As in the overall table, you are currently third in the second half of the season table. What's your assessment of the previous performances and displays in 2022? In what areas have you made progress compared with the first half of the season?
Demirbay: In many. One important point is that we don't fall apart after going behind or conceding goals but instead remain disciplined in pursuing our approach and playing our game. That didn't always happen in the first half of the season. On top of that, we have become much more aggressive and our game is more intense – both with and without the ball. Those are all certain nuances that make a big difference overall.
How important is communication on and off the pitch during these phases?
Demirbay: Communication over the full 90 minutes is the name of the game as it can keep a team going. It enables you to gain energy yourself or to give your teammates a lift. We have certain players who lead the way in communication. But it's also a responsibility for all of us to a certain extent.
This season you’ve become an absolute first choice. What's your assessment of your performances in the current campaign to date?
Demirbay: On the one hand, I've developed personally off the pitch. In terms of football, I have become more consistent with my performances. I really feel at home here, I’m growing with the team and have a role at this club that I'm really into and it gives me an incredible amount of energy game after game.
What influence has the coach Gerardo Seoane had on you and your development?
Demirbay: He gives me a lot of confidence and freedom but I know in return what he can ask of me and what he gets. He demands a lot from all of us. Not too much – that's a difference.
The Swiss boss again and again emphasises he feels happiest with two holding players in midfield. What instructions does he give you for that position? What do you have to look out for?
Demirbay: We have to be players, fighters and tacticians in midfield and create balance in our own game. In certain situations we can make the difference in this position. We have to help the defence so they can easily play out from the back but also be able to win second balls. Basically, it's important that at least one holding midfielder maintains his position in every situation in the game. If one gets involved in attacking or as part of aggressive counter pressing then the other drops back. That gives us more stability.
At the moment, you're playing in holding midfield alongside Robert Andrich who arrived from Union Berlin last summer. What's special about your interaction?
Demirbay: We understand each other well on a personal level and are on the same wavelength. I really value his direct approach as a Berliner. But I'm also very happy I'm not his opponent. He can be very tough on the pitch. His defensive work and stability is an addition to my more attacking style of play. But we can both do the two things. Communication on the pitch is very good and that obviously makes our job even easier.
Just like Rob, you create the impression of being able to stand up physically in spite of your outstanding technical abilities. And then it appears to be of secondary importance if an opponent is over 1.90 metres tall like Moussa Niakhaté at Mainz 05. How important is aggression to your game?
Demirbay: It definitely is part of my game. It doesn't always have to be about a sliding tackle as it's also possible with anticipation, chasing or getting the ball away from the opponent. And those are the reasons the club brought me here back then. If I find out that my teammates, who are also my friends, are being mistreated by opponents then I'm not afraid of getting involved.
Saturday brings the home match against Arminia Bielefeld. What will be crucial in that game?
Demirbay: Basically, the same things as in the game against Mainz. They definitely won't give anything away, we have to focus in preparation for this opponent and we can't afford to underestimate them. We'll only win if we can master the basics. Aggression, intensity, ambition, communication – from the first minute they'll have to realise there's nothing doing for them here.
Based on the coronavirus protection order from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, 10,000 fans can come to the BayArena and it appears that full capacities at stadiums will be possible again from April. How important is a proper stage at home matches for achieving this season's targets?
Demirbay: Very important. Everybody cheers when you’re leading 4-0. But if it gets tight, the scores are level or if we are behind then the fans are incredibly important. They can help us win games with their support if they get behind us and get us going again and give us strength even if we are tired. We need our fans to help us achieve our targets.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen have given U17 player Francis Onyeka a long-term contact. The club has agreed a deal with the 16-year-old to 30 June 2027.Show more
#B04eSports team suffered the first defeat of the season on matchday five in the VBL Club Championship 2023/24. Last night’s other games ended in a win and a draw. The Black and Reds are now fifth in the North West division.Show more
Bayer 04 Leverkusen back continuity at the top of the club. The Bundesliga and Europa League participants have extended the contract with sporting managing director Simon Rolfes to 2028. The former midfielder and long-standing Werkself captain took over this position as the successor to Rudi Völler in the summer of 2022. He was previously the sporting director at Bayer 04 for three and a half years.Show more
The fans have decided: The goal scored by Florian Wirtz to make it 1-0 for Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the 2-1 home win against SC Freiburg was voted Goal of the Month for October with 45 % of the votes cast. The 20-year-old Werkself player won the vote conducted by ARD-Sportschau by a clear margin ahead of second-placed Harry Kane (Bayern Munich).Show more
BK Häcken have yet to gain a point in Group H. The club from Gothenburg entertain the Werkself on Thursday 30 November (kick-off: 21.00 CET). Häcken will be looking to improve their record in the last European home game of the year against the group leaders.Show more