In the wake of last season's extended and unexpected form trough, Bayer 04 Leverkusen are hoping it will be a case of Twin Peaks this time around, with the able assistance of new signing Sven Bender. After eight years in the service of Borussia Dortmund, the two-time Bundesliga champion will henceforth be running out for the Werkself, in the familiar company of his twin brother Lars.
The 28-year-old duo, both defensive midfielders equally at home filling in further back, came through the youth ranks together at TSV 1860 München before going their separate ways. Their professional reunion, Sven stressed at his first Leverkusen press conference, is “a nice bonus but the sporting perspective was the main reason I moved here. I want to be a team leader.”
It was a role he at times filled well for Dortmund but too infrequently, of late, for his own liking. At Bayer, the seven-time Germany international is looking forward to taking a more pivotal part in proceedings with or without his brother at his side – “As long as there's one Bender out on the pitch,” he added with a smile. Both helped Germany to a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and in reality he is, of course, greatly looking forward to running out alongside Lars for the first time in the Bundesliga.
Come the day, they will add the Bender name to a list of fraternal top-flight playing partnerships topped in terms of prominence by the Allofs and Rummenigges. Klaus and Thomas Allofs sharpshot their way around the league from the late 1970s through to the 90s, including extended periods together at Fortuna Düsseldorf and 1. FC Köln. Current Bayern München chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and his younger sibling Michael crossed paths for a couple of seasons in Munich, where they both won the DFB Cup in 1984. After the general disappointments of last season, a piece of serious silverware would be just the ticket for Sven, Lars and Leverkusen this time around.