The Rise of Sami Hyypiä

Bayern Munich are sitting at the top of the Bundesliga table after thrashing Borussia Dortmund 3-0 and increasing the gap between them to seven points. While Dortmund keep their focus on the team in front of them, Bayern Munich, a third team emerged from the background, overtaking Dortmund in the second position, it’s Bayer Leverkusen. Led by former Finland and Liverpool defender, Sami Hyypiä, Leverkusen have not only found stability in results since appointing Sami but they are also aiming for big this season with a squad in full harmony.

Sami ended his playing career at Bayer Leverkusen before joining their coaching staff

Bayer Leverkusen’s sporting director Rudi Voller was really fond of Sami as he proved to be a leader in the team during his playing stint at the club. Thus following his retirement as a player with Bayer Leverkusen, Hyypiä was offered to join the club’s coaching staff as an assistant under Robin Dutt, but the latter was eventually sacked in April 2012 since then, both Hyypiä and U-19 head coach, Sascha Lewandowski took the reins of the first team as Lewandowski posed in press conferences and took care of training session, Hyypiä used to intervene to give notes to players and give them the final talk in the dressing room before every match despite his German language skills being less than average.

The duo proved a good match and took Leverkusen as far as beating Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena and qualifying to the Europa League. Nevertheless, in their second season, the duo regularly argued among each other as they had different opinions and different mentalities which led Lewandowski to step down after the final match of the season in 2012-2013 despite the team qualifying to the Champions League.

“I’m happy that I’ve been able to help over the past 14 months after taking charge of the first team alongside Sami Hyypia in a difficult situation,” Lewandowski said. “We now have a functioning team that has great potential and is playing good and successful football.

The Finnish manager started this season for the first time working alone with his players and he outlined his intentions early on that the club will fight on all fronts, domestic league, cup as well as in Europe.

The Finnish tactician managed to get the best out of the availavle players, he saw the potential Stefan Kießling and built a formation around him with Sidney Sam and Heung-Min Son on his sides to feed him with balls. The striker is arguably among Germany’s best strikers in terms of aerial threat, this season he has scored 4 headers, more than any other Bundesliga player, though, this is not what he only does, he fools defenders by making them mark him as he holds up play before he sets up a team-mate. He played a total of 19 key passes up to date in the Bundesliga, three of which caused team-mates to score.

Not fluent in German, but a great communicator

Sami also knew how to keep a balanced team between several competitions, he is among the coaches who rotate the most in their squad, yet he does it efficiently without letting the team lose its balance. The defense and the midfield were always rotated to keep the squad away from fatigue. The season is still long to determine if Hyypiä’s formula will get him a trophy but for the time being he is doing a neat job.

Leverkusen has always been dubbed Vice-kusen for the fact that they always miss out on championships despite coming close to victory. The most memorable one was in 2001, they made a charge on all three fronts but they eventually lost the Champions League final against Real Madrid, as well as the German cup final and they ended up second in the league. The fans are tired of coming close to championships without winning them but if there is a coach who can hand Leverkusen the long awaited trophy it is no one other than Sami Hyypiä.

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