Bayer 04 Leverkusen face an uphill challenge when they face Atletico Madrid in the Estadio Vicente Calderon on Wednesday in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie. However, new Leverkusen boss Tayfun Korkut has stressed that the tie is not over and wants his side to believe in themselves.
Following a 4-2 loss in Roger Schmidt’s penultimate match in charge, Die Werkself head to the Spanish capital with the odds stacked against them. Ahead of their departure to Madrid, interim coach Korkut addressed the media at Cologne/Bonn Airport with a firm message: “We’re not going to Madrid just for a short city break. We have to believe we can qualify.”
The 42-year-old also stressed, “We’re one week further in our development and want to show that out on the pitch!”
Bayer’s sporting director and former Germany manager, Rudi Völler, also spoke with hope ahead of the team’s departure: “We know we’re in a tough position after the first leg, but we’ve already seen some great things happen in football before. We want to give a good account of ourselves, and for that we have to be assured in our play and not concede early.”
Leverkusen are travelling with a slightly depleted squad for this tie. Ömer Toprak, Jonathan Tah, Stefan Kießling and Lars Bender are all injured. Benjamin Henrichs is suspended, while 17-year-old Kai Havertz has important exams.
One player who has travelled, but you may not recognise with a new 'streamline' look is Mexican forward Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez. The striker has kept his word after losing a Super Bowl bet and has shaved his head. Already known for his goal scoring and pace, the 28-year-old may be even quicker now without the added air resistance.