Bayer Leverkusen overcame 2. Bundesliga side Paderborn on Wednesday evening to book their place in the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal. It was also a victory that maintained the club’s unbeaten start to the season in all competitions, and with just three Bundesliga clubs remaining in the Pokal, Leverkusen will be outstanding favourites to lift the trophy come May.
However, while Die Werkself are enjoying their remarkable start to the campaign, it has not been ideal for all involved. Josip Stanišić joined Leverkusen in the summer on a season-long loan from Bayern Munich but is yet to reap the rewards of searching for more minutes in the Bundesliga.
The Croatian international has had to endure a significant amount of time on the bench for Xabi Alonso’s side this season, and while the 23-year-old started against Paderborn in the Pokal, he has only been able to start once for the Werkself in the Bundesliga. When speaking to the media after the game, Stanišić did not hide the fact that he would like more game time:
“Well, yes, of course, things could go better for me personally. It would also be a lie if I said, ‘Everything is perfect.’ But I’m also here to help the team. It is what it is. I joined later but unfortunately became ill against Bayern. And Odi had done an outstanding job up until then, and he’s doing an outstanding job now. I’ll keep at it and try to do my best. It doesn’t help to bring a bad mood into the team. There are days when I’m sometimes better, sometimes worse. That’s just my nature. I’m someone who always wants to play.”
With Stanišić frustrated due to a lack of game time at Leverkusen this season, it is important to remember the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations during January and February. Die Wekself are expected to be without Edmond Tapsoba and Odilon Kossounou, meaning that Alonso will have to rely upon his services throughout that period.
If Stanišić is to become a more prominent feature for Leverkusen this season, then he will need to impress in the absence of those currently in front of him.
GGFN | Will Shopland