The 1-1 draw in the top match at RB Leipzig is already receding into the background for the Black and Reds as Bayer 04 entertain Union Berlin in the DFB Cup quarter-final at the BayArena on Wednesday 4 March (kick-off: 18.30 CET). Head coach Peter Bosz says his players are undaunted by the packed fixture list: "We are fully focused. I've said the cup is a very important competition. The players are very focused on every game and I can see that as the coach."
The Dutchman welcomed eleven players to the training ground today. The captain, Lars Bender, who went off injured in the 3-1 win in the second leg at FC Porto, did not train with his team mates. It remains to be seen whether the defender will be available for the DFB Cup tie against Union.
After today's training session, Bosz found words of praise for Nadiem Amiri – that was primarily due to the football intelligence of the 23-year-old who moved from holding midfield to the right side of the defence in the game against Leipzig. "For my playing philosophy it's important that we attack with eleven players but also defend with eleven men. That's why I like Nadiem being able to play as an attacking midfielder or as a six. At Ajax, I turned Daley Sinkgraven from an attacking midfielder into a full-back; some players can do that. The same goes for Amiri who can play in different positions. He's a very intelligent player and I like working with players like that. He set up our goal against Leipzig."
Werkself Radio has established a new record with around 15,000 listeners for the Europa League Round of 32 victory for Bayer 04. The 3-1 win against Porto attracted the highest number of listeners for a match and that was almost twice as many as for the Bundesliga away game at Bayern Munich (2-1). The commentators Cedric Pick and Niko Hartmann will be on duty for the Round of 16 games in the Europa League against Rangers (12 and 19 March). In addition, the duo are in action for all Bundesliga and DFB Cup fixtures.
BILD praised two Black and Red defenders for their performances against RB Leipzig (1-1). Goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky was named in the Team of the Matchday with a rating of two. Defender Edmond Tapsoba, signed in the winter break, received an even higher mark. The 21-year-old picked up top marks and it was logical that the Burkina Faso international was also in the matchday eleven.
There was also praise in the football press for midfielder Kerem Demirbay: Last Thursday night, the former Hoffenheim player scored his first competitive goal for the Werkself against Porto in the Europa League. Three days later, the 26-year-old produced an impressive performance in the top match at RB Leipzig – and kicker named him Man of the Match. The reasoning: "He was the linchpin for Bayer and stood out on the left side of midfield with his distribution and his ability to switch play."
The newly formed Nations League is entering its second round. After the increase from 12 to 16 teams, Germany with Kai Havertz, Jonathan Tah and Co. are still in Division A but they are in a really tough group: Clashes with England, France or Spain are possible. There is a possibility the Werkself Austria players Julian Baumgartlinger and Alexander Dragovic could play against Bayer 04 keeper Lukas Hradecky: Both Austria and Finland are in Division B.
The individual groups will be drawn in Amsterdam tomorrow (Tuesday 3 March) from 18.00 CET. The group stage will be played on three double matchdays after the Euros in the summer between September and November. The finals with the four group winners from Division A take place from 2 to 6 June 2021.
Feliz Aniversário, Franca! The former Werkself striker today celebrates his 44th birthday. The player born in Brazil joined Bayer 04 in 2002. In 97 games for the Black and Reds, Françoaldo Sena de Souza scored 33 goals. Bayer 04 wish him many happy returns!
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