Despite two crushing disappointments at the end of the season (missing out on Champions League football and defeat in the DFB-Pokal final to Bayern Munich) Bayer Leverkusen cannot afford to wallow in their misery. When the Europa League resumes in the first week of August they will face Rangers in the second leg of the last-16 tie, already 3-1 up after winning convincingly at Ibrox.
They will be well aware that having lost out on 4th place In the Bundesliga to Borussia Mönchengladbach, they will have a chance to claim a place in next season’s Champions League by winning the Europa League. With either Getafe or Inter Milan awaiting them in the quarter finals, the “Werkself” have an excellent chance to progress in the tournament.
A further potential advantage for them lies in the location of the mini tournament which will take place in North Rhine Westphalia, almost on home territory. Whilst no games are taking place at the BayArena, nearby stadiums in Cologne, Düsseldorf, Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg will be used - all within 25 miles of Leverkusen.
Leverkusen will have their fit-again captain Lars Bender at their disposal, together with star player Kai Havertz, who has yet to decide which team he will be joining for the 2020-21 season. Current favourites Chelsea have already signed Timo Werner from RB Leipzig, who will have to pursue their current Champions League campaign without their leading goal scorer.
So the next month will be test of Leverkusen’s professionalism at the end of the very strange and demanding season. However the prize should ensure they are fully focused on the task.