Gelsenkirchen - The sense of déjà-vu was inescapable for Bayer 04 Leverkusen after Saturday's 2-2 draw at Schalke. For the second consecutive week, the Werkself were forced to settle for a point, despite having once again led for the majority of the match.
Not content at having kept his side's closest challengers for third place at a safe distance, midfielder Lars Bender vented his frustration at the dropped points after the final whistle.
Question: Lars Bender, what are your thoughts on the match?
Lars Bender: If you're 2-0 up, you shouldn't throw the game away like we did. It's annoying because we were ahead against Wolfsburg last week and didn't win there either. At the end of the day, we only came away with a point. It's part of football for that to happen once, but not if it happens two games in a row. We need to learn something from that this time.
Question: Like last week, Leverkusen wasted several decent chances to score…
Bender: That's precisely what's wrong with us at the moment, we're just not taking our chances. We created some good opportunities in the first half, as we did against Wolfsburg, and that's not easy to do at Schalke because they're a really strong side. However, the bottom line is we should have made more out of our chances.
Question: Is that the biggest problem at Leverkusen right now?
Bender: We need to learn from this match. You're always going to concede at this level and that was the case at Schalke, but if you look at the chances we had, especially in the first half, then it's clear we should have killed the game off. We threw it away against Schalke, just like we have done in the last few weeks.
Question: Why do you think the team is so wasteful of late? Are you not cold-blooded enough or is it a lack of concentration?
Bender: We need to stay calm and believe in ourselves, as I'm convinced we'll start finshing our chances again. We don't need to doubt our ability. The most important thing is that we're creating the chances in the first place - it would be much worse if we didn't. We'd have a bigger problem on our hands if that was the case.
Question: The race for third place and direct qualification for the UEFA Champions League is still tight. What's your take on the situation?
Bender: We're not interested in hypothetical situations. We've set ourselves the objective of only focusing on the next game. Before the Schalke match people were talking about a draw being enough to keep them at arm's length, but that was never our goal. We set out to win this match and I think that was clear in the first half.
Question: Do you agree that by drawing, Leverkusen missed the chance to cement third place?
Bender: It would have been a big step for us, but we're still in a good position and have matters in our own hands. Now we have two home games in a row and we want to come away from those with maximum points.
Reporting by Dietmar Nolte