Summary

  • Chicharito the league's top-scorer in 2017 with five.
  • Kai Havertz providing excellent support to the Mexican.
  • Leverkusen recovering after reaching a low ebb onMatchday 19.

The low point came at the start of February in Matchday 19's Friday evening opener. A 1-0 loss at relegation-threatened Hamburger SV was bad enough in its own right but above all, it was the insipid manner in which Bayer 04 Leverkusen gave up the points that set the alarm bells ringing among the ever-ambitious club's movers and shakers.

"That was certainly a step in the wrong direction," said sporting director Rudi Völler; "Before we start setting targets we should just maybe win a game – and try to put in a good shift of football." The team responded to Völler's clarion call at the next opportunity, with a thumping 3-0 success against high-flying Eintracht Frankfurt at their home BayArena.

Watch: Highlights of Leverkusen's 3-0 win over Frankfurt:

They followed up on that with a 3-1 win at FC Augsburg, kicked off with the 50,000th goal in Bundesliga history. The honour fell to Karim Bellarabi, back from an extended stint on the sidelines and even if, by his own admission, he needs "a few more games yet," the pacy Germany international is earmarked for a key role as Leverkusen seek to salvage some form of European qualification from what has so far been an unexpectedly topsy-turvy season.

The return to scoring form of Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez can only lend further impetus to the Bayer cause. Chicharito has bagged a division-best five goals since league action resumed after the winter break –  the first of them ending an eleven-game scoring drought on the part of the Mexican star.

Kai Havertz (l.) has been a positive revelation in recent weeks for Leverkusen © imago / ActionPictures

Alongside their established big names, meanwhile, Leverkusen looked to have unearthed a real gem in Kai Havertz. The club's youngest-ever Bundesliga player when he made his debut last August, the 17-year-old midfielder has really stepped up to the mark in the last couple of outings and laid on Bellarabi's milestone strike at Augsburg.

With playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu suspended for the rest of the season, Havertz could find himself thrust into the limelight on a more frequent basis as Leverkusen attempt to embark on a late charge they hope might yet even see them squeeze into their accustomed Champions League slot.