Hradecky: “Nothing can happen from the head”
If words are followed by deeds, then the Werkself fans can expect a highly concentrated team from Leverkusen this evening in the second leg of the Europa League. It is not only goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, but also all the players and officials who emphasise that the focus is on the match against FK Krasnodar and not on the top match on Sunday at Borussia Dortmund.
They are two very different games. And yet both today’s Europa League match against FK Krasnodar and the Bundesliga match at Borussia Dortmund on Sunday have a very special meaning.
In Dortmund, not only Peter Bosz will return to his old place of work, but Bayer 04 will also have the opportunity to set another exclamation mark against the currently not in top form league leader with the fifth victory in a row and thereby raise hopes for a Champions League place.
Against Krasnodar, Bayer will play for a place in the round of sixteen. A knockout match in a competition whose importance the Bayer managers have been emphasizing time and again since the summer. Bayer can win a lot in the Europa League. In addition to prestige, they may also win the title, as they believe in Leverkusen in view of the fact that last season in the semi-finals FC Salzburg and Olympique Marseille faced each other – two teams from which Bayer 04 Leverkusen has no reason to hide.
But first of all, the Krasnodar hurdle has to be overcome. “Unfortunately, we didn’t score an away goal. But you always have to win at home,” Lukas Hradecky says after the 0:0 in the first leg. However, the goalkeeper is far from underestimating the Russian runners-up, who is playing his first competitive games against Bayer after the two-month winter break. On the contrary. “The Russians were not weak at all. They can already kick. In my opinion, they were surprisingly good at keeping fit, even though they’re not in the rhythm of the game – that was impressive,” the goalkeeper explained.
Krasnodar is not underestimated
On the contrary, the impressions of the first leg, in which Bayer was extremely superior in the field but the Russians had the better chances, once again sensitised them to the difficulty of the task. Consequently, Hradecky believes that there will be no basis in the minds of the Bayer pros to underestimate the opponent even rudimentarily. “We will take this game seriously,” assures the 29-year-old. The mental preparation for the recent league game against Fortuna Düsseldorf was more difficult. “In this respect, the Düsseldorf game was the more dangerous game,” says Hradecky and assures for the match on Thursday: “Nothing can happen against Krasnodar from the head”.