The brilliance of Kai Havertz isn't the only reason why Bayer Leverkusen should be quietly confident of beating Inter Milan in their one-legged UEFA Europa League quarter-final tie in Düsseldorf on Monday. bundesliga.com makes the case for Peter Bosz's men...
1) King Kai
The name Havertz spells serious trouble for opposition defences - the meanest of its type in Serie A very much included. The 21-year-old midfielder has scored three goals and assisted two more in four games since Leverkusen dropped into the Europa League in February. He also put away nine goals and laid on five more in Bayer's 17 Bundesliga matches during the second half of 2019/20, as well as one of each in the latter stages of the DFB Cup. Leverkusen's chief marksman for two seasons running, it's no great surprise that Bosz has experienced so much joy deploying his talisman as a central striker. But let's face it, 'King Kai' is so unbelievably gifted he could line up at centre-half and still be the most dangerous player on the pitch. "We've had many good players through the history of the club at Bayer Leverkusen, but Kai Havertz is the best of them all," said the club's sporting director, Rudi Völler, recently.
Watch: All Kai Havertz's Bundesliga goals and assists in 2019/20
2) Diaby and Co.
As star-studded a player as Havertz is, Glasgow Rangers learned not to underestimate the supporting cast in the last-16. Leon Bailey joined Havertz and midfield general Charles Aranguiz - suspended for the Inter clash - on the scoresheet in the first leg at Hampden Park, while Moussa Diaby turned in the only goal of the game in the return fixture to seal a 4-1 aggregate success. Bailey has a history of turning it on in the big games - just ask Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund (more on that later) - but the Jamaica international has been upstaged somewhat by former Paris Saint-Germain whizz Diaby in 2019/20. The eye-wateringly rapid winger has had a direct hand in three goals in Leverkusen's last three Europa League outings, and 16 across his debut campaign in a Bayer shirt. Bosz can also count on the more traditional goal-scoring talents of Kevin Volland and Argentina international Lucas Alario - forwards with proven pedigree on the continental stage - as well as Germany up-and-comer Nadiem Amiri and record-breaking teenager Florian Wirtz, a player former Cologne academy boss and sporting director Jörg Jakobs believes can be "at least in the same category as Havertz".
3) 'Home' advantage
To supplement a squad rich in attacking talent, Bayer have home advantage on their side - well, kind of. A neutral venue on paper, Fortuna Düsseldorf's Merkur Spiel-Arena is located only 30 miles north west of the city of Leverkusen. That means Die Werkself will be breathing the same Rhineland air that stifled Porto and Rangers in the previous rounds. They're now undefeated in nine Europa League matches (W6 D3), winning all four this season, and are unbeaten in their last eight games in the competition on German soil (W5, D3). Inter, on the other hand, have lost four of 15 Europa League knockout fixtures to date - including three against German opposition. Their 2-0 win over Getafe in the previous round - staged in the Ruhr district city of Gelsenkirchen - ended a run of four games without a win in Germany (D1, L3).
4) Dortmund yardstick
Inter spurned a glorious chance to end that winless cycle earlier this season. Leading Dortmund 2-0 at half-time in the UEFA Champions League groups, Antonio Conte's men folded after the restart as BVB scored three times in 13 second-half minutes in a stunning comeback win. It was a decisive result in Group F, with the Black-Yellows holding on to the runners-up spot and progressing to the last-16 at Inter's expense. Leverkusen made no such mistakes when they faced Dortmund in February, hitting back from 2-1 and 3-2 down to claim a barnstorming 4-3 victory. They also accounted for champions Bayern a couple of months prior - thanks, again, in no small part to another Bailey star turn. Despite finishing second in the final Serie A standings, meanwhile, Inter lost both their meetings to top dogs Juventus. I Nerazzurri also fell to Napoli at the semi-final hurdle in the Coppa Italia; Bayer suffered a narrow 4-2 reverse at the hands of Bayern in the DFB Cup final.
Watch: Highlights of Leverkusen's seven-goal thriller with Dortmund
5) The Bosz-man
Leverkusen's ability to take on the big boys, and win, owes much to the tactical nous of Bosz. The Dutchman favours quick, attacking football and the use of Gegenpressing, a demanding off-the-ball ploy popularised by Jürgen Klopp at Dortmund. He also likes his sides to keep possession using a quick-passing style. "Barcelona had the three-second rule," Bosz said during former club Ajax's run to the 2016/17 Europa League final. "We're not Barcelona, so I've introduced the two-second rule."
The Barcelona in question was Pep Guardiola's vaunted generation; not the ageing crop that beat Inter 2-1 home and away in this season's Champions League groups. And get this: Inter have only scored more than twice in two of 19 European fixtures over the past two seasons; Bosz-ball, by contrast, is yielding 2.33 goals per continental game.