- Ninth-place Leverkusen searching for consistency.
- Domestic disappointment balanced by European success.
- Calhanoglu emerges as team leader.
At the halfway point of the 2016/17 Bundesliga season, it is time for bundesliga.com to dissect the campaigns of each club so far.
Let's take a look at Bayer 04 Leverkusen...
Story so far
A team with Leverkusen's history always aims to finish in the European qualifying places, but they endured a difficult first half of the season and find themselves in ninth. After opening with a 2-1 loss at Borussia Mönchengladbach, Die Werkself bounced back by beating Hamburger SV, only to lose their next fixture against Eintracht Frankfurt. It's an up-and-down story that has repeated itself so far this term: on Matchday 6 Bayer picked up a valuable win over Borussia Dortmund, only to drop points the following week at SV Werder Bremen. Leverkusen have yet to put together back-to-back victories, and will need to find consistency to move up the table. The bright spot for Bayer has been their form in the UEFA Champions League, where they advanced to the knockout stage with relative ease.
Watch: Javier 'Chicharito' Hernadez's hat-trick against Mainz on Matchday 5:
Star player: Hakan Calhanoglu
The 22-year-old midfielder has been in highly productive form in his third season with Leverkusen. Calhanoglu banged in four Bundesliga goals, set up four more, and acted as a steadying influence on the squad with his standout play. The Turkey international's eye-catching goals from distance, like his strike against Darmstadt on Matchday 10, were critical in opening up opposing defences.
Watch: Turkish delight: Top 10 Goals:
Honourable mention: Julian Brandt
Leverkusen's attacking style can set the stage for a few moments of brilliance in any game; when something truly special does go down, Julian Brandt is often at the middle of it. The 20-year-old has emerged as one of the Bundesliga's top dribblers, taking on defenders and drawing a crowd that his teammates regularly benefited from. Brandt's mazy runs helped him collect six assists through the first 16 matches.
- Leverkusen's 21 points after 16 matches puts them just three points off the pace they set last season.
- The Werkself have been awarded four penalties in the Bundesliga so far this season, but have missed all of them.
- With 23 goals scored to 24 conceded, Leverkusen have one of the most finely balanced goal differences in the league.