Archive for the ‘Leverkusen’ Category

Lars Bender…I think

Lars Bender was born April 27 1989. Minutes later, Sven Bender arrived on the scene. 22 years later, and they are regarded as two of the hottest prospects in Germany.

The pair started out at SpVgg Unterhaching, making their way through the ranks before together making the short move across the Bavarian capital to join 1860 Munich.

The careers continued dawn the same path at Die Lowen, and in the three full seasons each had with the first team, they both made between 60-70 appearances.

Lars, however, was considered to have slightly more talent than his slightly younger brother. This was mainly due to his greater attacking abilities, and recognised by his being given the captain’s armband (when the regular captain was subbed) at the age of 19 – the youngest player ever to captain 1860 Munich.

In the summer of 2009, the twins finally went their separate ways. Lars signed for Bayer Leverkusen, while Sven went to Borussia Dortmund. Both have experienced plenty of first team action, but it is Sven who has had more success – playing a key role in Dortmund’s Bundesliga title win.

Sven Bender…possibly.

They have both represented Germany at every level, from U17 to the full national side, and both played their part in the Uefa U19 Championship win in 2008. Sven was the first to appear for the national side – in a friendly against Australia in March 2011 – but it wasn’t long before Lars won his first cap, and it is the elder Bender who currently has more caps to his name.

Individually, they are two extremely talented young midfielders, and very good prospects. If a club, or their country, could reunite them in the centre of midfield, they could be the perfect pairing.

“The Bender twins are inevitably going to be compared to one another. They play similar roles, breaking up the play in front of the back four and creating. They both get around the pitch well with their rangy frames and always seem to have a dozen passing options at any point.” – John Dobson, journalist. @dobsonjp

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Neuer: Two challengers for his jersey

Manuel Neuer is currently in possession of the Germany number 1 jersey, and is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers not just in Germany, but the world.

That being said, however, he may well face some competition soon in the form of two 19-year-olds by the names of Bernd Leno and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The two goalkeepers have seen their stock rise remarkably this season, and are firmly established as first choice goalkeepers for their respective sides, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Leno came through the ranks at Stuttgart, for whose reserve side he made over 50 appearances.

Ter Stegen, meanwhile, was rather remarkably signed by Die Fohlen at the tender age of four. Since then, he rose steadily through the ranks and established himself in the reserves and often back-up to first choice ‘keeper, Logan Bailly.

Leno found himself unable to break into the Stuttgart first team, but did sign a contract extension in May, which was to keep him at the club until 2014, perhaps a sign of how highly he was rated.

Similarly, ter Stegen found his path to the first team blocked, even when many fans believed he should have been the man between the posts, as opposed to Bailly. His fortunes, much like the club’s, would turn around with the appointment of Lucien Favre.

Leno, not long after signing the aforementioned extension, joined Leverkusen on loan as a replacement for the injured Rene Adler. Since then, he has become the youngest German goalkeeper to appear in the Champions League; and his short-term loan deal has been turned into a permanent one that runs until 2017. Such is his rival’s form, Adler has announced he is to leave Leverkusen when his contract expires.

Ter Stegen finally got his chance towards the end of the 2010/11 season, and ended up playing a part in their avoiding relegation. Since then, he’s been handed the number one jersey (literally and figuratively), while Bailly has been sent out on loan. Mönchengladbach boast the second best defence in the league, and that is in no small part down to ter Stegen.

If it weren’t for Neuer, at least one of them would probably have German caps to their name by now. As it stands, it surely won’t be long before they both do. They may have to wait a while for a chance, Neuer himself is only 25, but it’s a chance that will undoubtedly come. And it’ll be interesting to see which one of them takes it.

“Apart from Gotze, [the most exciting youngster in Germany] is probably Bernd Leno.” – Raphael Honigstein, German football correspondent for The Guardian. @Honigstein.

“Among the many young goalkeepers in Germany, for me, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the most exciting. He’s incredibly mature for his years.” – Clark Whitney, goal.com German editor. @Mr_Bundesliga.

Who is the better of the two is difficult to say, but you can have your say in the poll below.