This was the season, according to Hertha Berlin boss Pal Dardai, that Bayer Leverkusen might challenge Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga title. Coming off a third-place finish last season and under the guidance of Roger Schmidt, a rising star in the manager realm, things were looking up. It hasn’t worked out like that, though, as Schmidt went into this past weekend's match against Wolfsburg knowing that an upturn in results was necessary.
For the man once tipped as a potential successor to Pep Guardiola as Bayern Munich boss, this season has been quite a comedown, not least because of last week’s Cup exit to third-division side Sportfreunde Lotte (that was on penalties, after Charles Aranguiz, normally dead-eye from the spot, missed the target for the second time in a month).
Wolfsburg was an ideal opponent; winless since opening day, it fired coach Dieter Hecking last week and Valerien Ismael was the interim manager on the bench. Over teh weekend, Max Arnold put the Wolves ahead, but Leverkusen was the dominant side thereafter, and late goals from Admir Mehmedi and Tin Jedvaj gave Schmidt some breathing room.
His team travels to London this week to face Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, and after three straight draws in its group, Schmidt needs another positive result.