Patrik Schick: The Czech Bagsman Becoming Bayer Leverkusen’s Unlikely Hero

Patrik Schick’s last five goals for Leverkusen have come as such: 90+2 equaliser. 90+3’ winner. 90+7’ winner. 53’ winner. 90+1’ winner. And this is in a season that has seen the Prague-born talisman struggling with game time and consistent form; only 5 goals in 14 games in the Bundesliga, and 22 appearances in all competitions over the last year.


But it’s the importance of these goals that makes him so vital. On top of the 5 goals he has scored in the domestic league so far, he has 5 in 5 for Leverkusen in the Europa League, with 3 so far in the knockouts – mostly as a second-half substitute. This means that he has scored a goal every 31 minutes in European football this season, or, if he played a full 90, a hat-trick per game.


When Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen travelled to Azerbaijan to face opponents Qarabağ FK in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie the expectation was that they’d walk over their Caucasian opponents. In reality, Die Werkself went into the 90th minute needing a goal to keep their unbeaten streak, at that point 34 games long. 



But with a desperate and slightly awkward cross from midfielder Robert Andrich that floated into the centre of the box, the towering Schick, at 6”3, intelligently lost his marker, and proceeded to head one home to make it 2-2. Leverkusen had now reached 35 games unbeaten.


If the Czech had kept the run unbeaten for one game, he would have been heralded for the singular performance and no more. But Schick had other ideas. He blanked in the following game against Wolfsburg the following game, but scored a brace against Qarabağ in the second leg of Leverkusen’s knockout game – a game of where, just like the first leg, they went into added time with one goal for Qarabağ’s two. 


Despite not being Leverkusen’s most impressive attacker in terms of output this season, there’s a reason he’s become so effective when in his new-found role as a super-sub. At 6”3, he has the ability to latch on to lofted balls in the box, but more rare for a player of his height, he boasts the awareness and intelligence to find gaps in between defenders and to exploit space.


He has won exactly half of his aerial duels this season, putting him in the 77th percentile of all attackers in the top 5 leagues – an important stat for a player who spends a lot of time as a target man when playing full games. His awareness and intelligence when it comes to finding space in the attacking third is well illustrated by the fact he ranks in the 95th percentile for ‘offsides called against’ this season – partially down to his lack of full 90s, but also showing that he has a great knowledge of where defenders are.



His on-the-ball role can best be described as a poacher when coming on as a substitute, but when playing full games he tends to mix in elements of being a target man as well, to set up players like Alejandro Grimaldo, Jeremie Frimpong, and Nathan Tella. He is an impressive passer, not necessarily in volume and more so in consistency, with him ranking in the 94th percentile; 82% of his passes are successful per 90.


Schick’s weaknesses in possession are predominantly based around his dribbling, ranking in the 29th percentile for take-on percentage. Despite the low amount of take-ons he succeeds in, it is a tendency he has, whereas he would be better passing to a deep runner from midfield. Even with his good passing abilities and being played as a winger while at Roma, crossing and through balls are not a part of his arsenal under Xabi Alonso.


Off the ball he is fairly lacklustre – however, he is somewhat engaged during the press; he ranks in the 88th percentile for tackles in the attacking third. However, he very rarely tracks back or plays deeper to make a defensive contribution, ranking in the 8th percentile for tackles in the midfield third. However, this is not needed from a player like him, just as it is not needed from many advanced number 9s in modern football, a la Erling Haaland or Victor Osimhen. 



There’s no doubt that in full seasons where he is fit, Patrik Schick is one of the most imposing and dominant poachers in modern football – and if he continues his recent form, Leverkusen has a cult hero on their hands.


With Victor Boniface likely moving club within the next year, it will be Schick’s job to take back the position he once had as Leverkusen’s starting striker. But he is equipped for that; the prodigy from Prague scored 24 goals in 27 Bundesliga games two years ago, followed by a great EURO 2021 campaign where he scored 5 goals in 5 games as Czechia fell to Denmark in the quarter-finals.


As the ongoing issue of consistently elite strikers in Europe persists, don’t forget about Patrik Schick. If he stays injury-free, he’ll be back on a lot of radars within the next couple of years.


By: Jude Short / @Jayesse66

Featured Image: @Juanffrann / DeFodi Images