Hyypia on the spotlight, says Hitzfield

Sami Hyypia is facing his biggest test yet as coach of Bayer Leverkusen, according to former Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Football News: Sami Hyypia, Bayer Leverkusen

A nine-game winless streak has seen Leverkusen eliminated from the DFB-Pokal and the Champions League, while they have dropped to fourth in the Bundesliga and risk precipitating even further if they do not turn things around soon.

"They were Bayern's number one challengers in the first half of the season, but it was always clear that they could not keep things up for the whole season," Hitzfeld told Sky television.

"With each game that they have lost, they have lost even more self-confidence.

"They are dependent on (Stefan) Kiessling and he's had a long drought. If Kiessling's not in top form, then they have problems."

In spite of the pressure, Hitzfeld believes Hyypia can come through the acid test of his coaching acumen.

"I rate Hyypia highly because he's relaxed, and because he has improved the team tactically," Hitzfeld said.

"This is now a test of his mettle. He's never experienced anything like this as a coach.

"He's got to come out fighting and give it all he's got to get the team back on track. You can't just play your way out of a crisis.

"At times like this, you need to roll up your sleeves and maybe not play spectacularly, but play to win."

They would not be ill-advised to take a leaf out of opponents Augsburg's book.

The Bavarians have lost just two of their last 12 matches, winning six of those to move to within two points of the top six, and only five of Leverkusen.

That run had turned Eintracht Frankfurt's attention to Augsburg's coach Markus Weinzierl as a candidate to replace Armin Veh next season, but according to Kicker magazine, the 39-year-old has turned them down.

With another win on Wednesday night, Weinzierl could soon find himself linked with the Leverkusen hotseat.



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