Michael Probst/Associated Press
Having signed a great coach in Roger Schmidt and brought in the likes of Hakan Calhanoglu, Josip Drmic, Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Tin Jedvaj this summer, Leverkusen should be targeting even a top two finish. But they may not even finish in a Champions League spot.
Leverkusen's weaknesses are in midfield, where the loss of Emre Can will be significant, as well as defense. Lars Bender is an excellent option but one who is often injured. Gonzalo Castro is good in possession but perhaps does not possess all the ball-winning qualities one would hope for in a two-man defensive midfield system. Simon Rolfes and Stefan Reinartz are good ball-winners but offer less linking between the midfield and attack.
Schmidt's high-pressing system is exciting and enjoyable to watch, but it can be a bit of a disaster at the back. Kobenhavn created an unsettling number of chances in their Champions League play-off on Tuesday and scored twice from set pieces. Giulio Donati was so poor he was substituted at half-time.
Up front, there are some more question marks. Drmic and Calhanoglu are obviously huge talents, but neither could save their clubs from finishing in the relegation zone last season. Both will need to step up their game in their first season at the BayArena.
Like Hamburg, Leverkusen are also a team that in recent history have struggled to regain form once thing have started going against them. They have repeatedly capitulated in the Champions League in depressingly emphatic manner and seem to carry an inferiority complex. This mental barrier will be a big one to overcome. Having only finished a point ahead of Wolfsburg, Leverkuen will have to be wary of the likes of the Lower Saxony side, Gladbach and perhaps even Hoffenheim behind them.