Berlin: Sami Hyypia has insisted Bayer Leverkusen will not just roll over in today’s Champions League Last 16, second-leg clash at Paris Saint-Germain despite facing a four-goal deficit. Hyypia’s Leverkusen were thrashed 0-4 at home by PSG last month as Sweden superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic ran riot with two goals including a stunning strike from the edge of the box.
Leverkusen face a near-impossible task in the return leg at PSG’s Parc des Princes, but Hyypia is determined that his side will play with their heads high.
“We won’t just throw away the game, otherwise I would have sent the Under-23 squad,” insisted the 40-year-old ex-Liverpool defender. “This is a great opportunity for one or two players to show what they can do.”
Bayer’s tough week
Bayer face a tough week as they follow their trip to Paris with an away match at runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday, who are on a 49-match unbeaten league run. Hyypia has endured a nightmare month since his side last tasted victory with a 1-0 league win at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Feb 7.
Since then they suffered a shock German Cup defeat at home to second-division Kaiserslautern which triggered a five-match losing streak and included the PSG debacle. Only Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Hanover 96 stopped the rot. Further defeats could see Leverkusen drop out of the Champions League berths.
“This is a good challenge for us to show we are strong,” insisted Hyypia, who is in his debut season as coach. “My coaching career is not very long and this is the first time that I’m stuck in such a situation.”
At PSG, Hyypia will be without Germany midfielder Lars Bender, who has a leg injury, but should be back to face Bayern. Midfielder Jens Hegeler suffered a torn ankle ligament at Hanover and will likely miss the rest of the season. Centre-back Emir Spahic is suspended after being sent off in the first leg.