UEFA Europa League

The View From Germany: Leverkusen stat-pack & 11/2 Bet Builder tip

Bayer Leverkusen celebrating winning the Bundesliga
Leverkusen crowned as unbeaten Bundesliga champions

Bayer Leverkusen have already won the Bundesliga title, and they face Atalanta on Wednesday in the Europa League final. Bundesliga columnist and commentator Kevin Hatchard takes a look at some of Die Werkself's key players.

Betfair Superboost

Italy and Germany flock to Ireland on Wednesday for tonight's Europa League Final at the Aviva Stadium, with Bayern Leverkusen looking to extend their season long unbeaten run against Atalanta.

Should they avoid defeat here, they will have one more match to play to finish the 2023-24 campaign undefeated, and possibly winning an unprecedented treble.

Leverkusen are expected to dominate the ball this evening, and Betfair have rolled out a Superboost on an Atalanta side - who commit more fouls per Europa League game than any other - to commit 12 or more this evening. That can be backed below at 1/12.00 - up from 4/71.57!

The Italian side have hit the 12+ mark in all but one of their Europa League encounters this season (11 in the other), with their game-by-game tally in the competition as follows - 17, 16, 14, 16, 15, 18, 16, 17, 11, 12, 16, 14.

Bayer Leverkusen v Atalanta
Wednesday 22 May, 20:00
Live on TNT Sports

Leverkusen have changed the fabric of German football

For years, potential challengers of Bayern Munich's domination of the Bundesliga have told themselves privately and publicly that it wasn't realistic to expect to be able to make a breakthrough at the top of the German game. Bayern have too much money, too much quality, too much experience, they said. In breaking that hegemony, Bayer Leverkusen have stripped away any excuses, and have shown what can be achieved.

Xabi Alonso's Bayer haven't just lifted the coveted meisterschale for the first time, they have also become the first team to go through an entire Bundesliga season unbeaten, and they have gone an incredible 51 games without defeat in all competitions.

While the coach is the true star of the show, he has been able to call upon so many different players, and both the sporting director Simon Rolfes and the CEO Fernando Carro deserve massive credit for assembling a squad capable of excelling in multiple competitions.

Having lifted the Bundesliga trophy on Saturday (captain Lukas Hradecky also took the famous silverware into the crowd so the ultras could lift it), Bayer can now add the Europa League and DFB Pokal to their trophy haul for this season.

Ones to watch

Let's take a look at some of the players who could help them win the Europa League in Dublin on Wednesday.

The Shooter - Jeremie Frimpong

Xabi Alonso likes to rotate his squad, not least his strikers, so instead of picking a centre-forward in this category, I'll select rampaging wing-back Jeremie Frimpong. The speedy Dutch international delivered seven goals and six assists in the Bundesliga, and has netted a further five goals across the Europa League and DFB Pokal.

In the Bundesliga, Frimpong averages 0.86 shots on target per 90, and if you look at his last five UEL games he has had a total of 17 goal attempts. I don't think it's asking a lot for him to manage a shot on target, so he's worth backing at 4/51.80 on the Sportsbook, whether as a single or in a Bet Builder.

If Frimpong doesn't start, try his wing-back partner Alex Grimaldo, who has ten goals and 11 assists in the Bundesliga. The Spaniard averages a healthy 0.74 shots on target per 90 in the Bundesliga, and is 10/111.91 on the Sportsbook to have a shot on target here.

Our friends at Opta tell us that Bayer have had 232 shots in this season's Europa League, the most since Chelsea in 2019.

The Creator - Florian Wirtz

German international Florian Wirtz is one of the most exciting attacking midfielders in the game, and at the age of 21, he has enormous potential. The former Köln prodigy showed grit and determination to come back from a serious ACL injury, and his close control, vision and shooting technique make for a heady brew.

Wirtz scored 11 goals in the league and made 11 more, and according to FBref.com he averaged 6.3 Shot Creating Actions per 90, so he's constantly getting himself or teammates into good shooting or scoring positions.

Wirtz is attractively priced in the To Score or Assist market at 5/42.25.

The Passer - Granit Xhaka

Of all the incredible performances Bayer have featured this season, perhaps Granit Xhaka's have been the most integral to the team's success. A true midfield general, the Swiss international has shown he can elude pressure in tight spaces time and time again.

He has produced nearly 1000 more passes than second-placed Jonathan Tah in Bayer's list of pass attempts, and he's also miles clear at the top of Bayer's list of players who have carried the ball the greatest total distance. The former Arsenal star has played more league minutes than any other outfield player for Bayer this term.

The Fouler - Robert Andrich

German international midfielder Robert Andrich is the enforcer in the Bayer side, and he seems to have won the battle with Exequiel Palacios to partner Xhaka in midfield. If you look at his league stats, Andrich commits 1.22 fouls per 90, higher than Xhaka or indeed any of the Bayer centre-backs.

Andrich has always been a gritty performer (he was excellent in the Union Berlin sides that thrived under Urs Fischer), and you can expect him to act as an enforcer for Toni Kroos at EURO 2024.

Andrich is 2/51.40 to commit a foul, but that jumps up to 9/52.80 for two fouls. The 29-year-old has been booked in five of his last 13 appearances for club and country, so his odds of 23/20 to be shown a card have appeal too.

If Xabi Alonso springs a surprise and goes for Palacios, he's racked up eight yellow cards for Bayer in all competitions, and is a hefty 7/24.50 to be shown a card. If he starts, get on that price, as Atalanta will try to turn this into a midfield scrap.

I'll put together a Bet Builder with Andrich to commit 2+ fouls, Granit Xhaka to be fouled (only Palacios draws more fouls in the Bayer squad) and Jeremie Frimpong to have 2+ shots. That comes out at 6.411/2.

Now read The View From Italy: Atalanta stat-pack ahead of Europa League final!

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