Julian Brandt capped a milestone moment with his most impactful performance of the season in Bayer Leverkusen’s 5-1 route of Mainz. The 22-year-old’s return to the fore, like Die Werkself’s under Peter Bosz, has been emphatic.
After a first-half of the 2018/19 campaign which failed to meet expectations, a run of three straight Bundesliga wins has propelled Leverkusen back into top-six contention.
However, upon being asked who could stop Bayer in current form, Brandt’s response of “Heidenheim” was reflective of both the jovial mood at the club and the level-headed nature of one of their leading men.
Peter Bosz has reinvigorated a frontline blessed with youthful exuberance and jaw-dropping quality, but the change has been most notable in the 23-time Germany international.
Watch: Brandt promises more to come after first Bundesliga brace!
Before the winter break, Brandt chipped in with just one goal and three assists. Since the season’s restart though, the Bremen-native has been involved in six goals in four games.
Marking his 200th appearances in all competitions for Die Werkself against Mainz on Friday night, Brandt ran the show, bagging a brace and setting up a further two goals, but remained realistic in his appraisal of the upturn in form.
“The bottom line is that things can go in different directions very quickly,” the 22-year-old told Sportschau. “We’ve played very, very well in three games straight. We’ve left a good impression after an inexplicable first half of the season. But things can go up as fast as they come down.”
“We’re going to come up against opponents where the game will be a lot tighter and when we’re not quite as on our game. Right now we’re in a really good mood and we’re hoping that we can maintain that. We’re going to continue to try and be as consistent as possible, but there’s no guarantee of that.”
Leverkusen, who are one loss away from suffering as many defeats in the current campaign as they did in the entirety of 2017/18, don’t need reminding that there are no guarantees. The early signs though, are that Bosz has tapped into a well of talent that predecessor Heiko Herrlich only skimmed the surface of.
“Of course it’s a different style of play, but we’re finding our groove as a collective,” continued Brandt. “At the moment, things are going really well with Bosz’s style of play. Everyone’s got their own recipe for success.”
Part of Bosz’s new modus operandi involves a change in role for Brandt, who is now being deployed alongside fellow starlet Kai Havertz in the heart of midfield. It’s hard to argue against Bosz’s brainchild based on the results so far.
“I’ve seen a lot of games involving Julian,” explained the 55-year-old. “During my time with Dortmund when we played against Bayer, in Leverkusen. Back then he was playing on the wing, but I saw him as a midfielder.”
He’s such a good player and you’ve got to give good players the ball as much as possible. Today he was really exceptional. He barely lost the ball, he was choosing the right moments to complete the triangles. He’s a great player.”
Brandt succinct summation of “things are clicking for us and I don’t think our opponents are enjoying it” was spot on, but high-flying Leverkusen are keeping their feet firmly planted despite holding an outside hope of clinching a top-four finish.
At the latest, the clash with league leaders Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 23 should provide the clearest indication as to just how much of the finished article Brandt and Bayer are under Bosz.