Bayer Leverkusen will look to disrupt Bayern Munich’s incredible form as they get ready to host the table-toppers at the BayArena this Saturday.
The Bundesliga games continue to come hard and fast and champions Bayern Munich will be in action on Saturday, as they get ready to travel to Bayer Leverkusen in what should be the most mouth-watering clash of the weekend.
Leverkusen under Peter Bosz have proven time and time again that they are a force to be reckoned with in the Bundesliga, and this season has been no different. They returned to winning ways last weekend against SC Freiburg and currently sit 5th on the table, level on points with fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach.
Die Werkself were enjoying a seven-game unbeaten run led by 20-year-old Kai Havertz, who has been in unbelievable form since the turn of the year. However, this brilliant run came to an end in shocking fashion when VfL Wolfsburg put four past them away from home.
Things have been a bit different for Munich, who sacked Niko Kovac midway through the season and have been unstoppable since Hansi Flick has taken over. This includes a 10-game winning and 19-game unbeaten streak. Last weekend, the Bavarians scored five unanswered goals past Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Bayern fell to a 2-1 defeat in the reverse fixture at the Allianz Arena thanks to a brace from Leon Bailey who was later subbed off due to an injury. Lukas Hradecky turned out to be the match-winner for Leverkusen, though, ending the game with 10 saves.
Their last meeting at the BayArena, too, was won by Leverkusen, who scored three past Manuel Neuer in the second half to record a 3-1 victory. It is highly unlikely for Leverkusen to challenge for the title, but a victory over the defending champions would give them a huge boost in their fight for a podium finish.
Team News & Tactics
Bayer Leverkusen will go into this game with no major injury concerns despite some early doubt over Kai Havertz’s involvement, as the youngster was forced off due to an injury against Freiburg after scoring the only goal of the encounter.
Kevin Volland and Lucas Alario have both regained fitness just in time to face the champions, but are not expected to start straightaway, especially with Havertz in such fine form. There is some doubt over the return of captain Lars Bender, who is still recovering from a foot injury but could participate in this game if need be.
We are expecting Peter Bosz to go for his trusted back four that have started most games since the return of the Bundesliga with Sven Bender, Edmond Tapsoba starting at the heart of the Bayer Leverkusen defence, while Mitchell Weiser and Daley Sinkgraven will provide the width from the right and left flanks, respectively. This backline will provide cover to Lukas Hradecky, who has kept the second-highest clean sheets (9) this campaign.
Charles Aranguiz is expected to screen the defence in a double pivot alongside Julian Baumgartlinger, but Kerem Demirbay is an option for the role as well if Bosz is looking for more of an attacking threat than Baumgartlinger.
Moussa Diaby has started all but one game since the return of the Bundesliga and will start the game on the left flank, opposite to Karim Bellarabi, although Bosz might want to look at someone like Florian Wirtz, who is much more hardworking than his other wingers and will be able to cover someone like Alphonso Davies.
Nadiem Amiri will retain his position as the number 10 after being dropped against Freiburg. Amiri will play off of Havertz, who will play as the sole striker. That said, it will not be surprising to see Leverkusen line up in a 3-4-3 to neutralise Bayern’s chaotic wingers and full-backs.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hradecky; Weiser, Sven Bender, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven; Aranguiz, Baumgartlinger; Bellarabi, Amiri, Diaby; Havertz
The Munich outfit do not have any fresh injury concerns for the upcoming match, but will still be without three first-team players who have yet not recovered from injuries.
While Thiago Alcantara returns from injury, Bayern Munich will be without the services of Corentin Tolisso (ankle), Philippe Coutinho (ankle) and Niklas Sule (match fitness). Sule has recovered from his long-term injury, but the trip to Leverkusen may be too soon, too tough for the German defender.
Manuel Neuer will yet again hold down the fort from between the goalposts, and will be guarded by the backline of Benjamin Pavard, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and Alphonso Davies. Bayern’s full-backs, especially Davies have been in tremendous form under Hansi Flick and will be expected to create ruckus down the flank.
The brilliant Joshua Kimmich is expected to start again in the midfield aided by Thiago, who will replace Leon Goretzka to form the double pivot.
The wings will feature Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman on the left and right sides, respectively. This duo will be complemented by Thomas Muller, who will start as the attacking midfielder. The German has had a turn of fortune under new management, directly contributing to 21 goals (7 goals, 14 assists) and is now the highest assist provider across the top 5 leagues with 18.
Robert Lewandowski will lead the line for Bayern and is expected to continue his scintillating form which includes 29 goals in 27 appearances this season. The Pole also leads the race for the European Golden Boot, two clear off ex-Borussia Dortmund megaflop turned Lazio stalwart, Ciro Immobile.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Thiago; Coman, Muller, Gnabry; Lewandowski
- Bayer Leverkusen have won their last two Bundesliga encounters with Bayern Munich. They have never won three in a row against the record champions.
- Leverkusen have won two and lost just one of their last six home matches against the record champions: the 3-1 reverse on 12 January 2018. Bayern have failed to score on four of their last eight visits to the BayArena.
- Kai Havertz is Leverkusen’s top scorer with 11 goals, five of which have come in the four matches since the season’s restart. His strike at Freiburg on Matchday 29 took him to 35 Bundesliga goals, making the Leverkusen prodigy the first-ever player to reach the milestone before his 21st birthday.
- Bayern have scored 86 goals this term – a Bundesliga record after 29 rounds of fixtures.
- Lewandowski is on course to win his fifth Torjagerkanone for being the league’s top goal-getter and his third in a row, but has only scored five times in 17 meetings with Leverkusen
Player to Watch
The German starlet is having another incredible season at Bayern Munich and remains one of their constant performers alongside Manuel Neuer and Robert Lewandowski. After playing consecutive games at right-back for Niko Kovac, Kimmich was shifted to his much preferred central midfield role by Hansi Flick, and has been one of the best in that role since.
Kimmich has contributed directly with three goals and six assists, the most recent goal coming against Borussia Dortmund when he chipped Roman Burki from outside the box in the most strange of circumstances. He also assisted Benjamin Pavard’s goal last weekend through a corner.
Leverkusen’s midfield will have to be extra careful of the 25-year-old who will be putting in his usual extraordinary shift. It will not be surprising if he ends the game with another masterclass in the centre of the park.
Bayer Leverkusen 2-3 Bayern Munich
We expect another thriller at the BayArena as two of the most attacking sides of the competition go head-to-head in this mouthwatering encounter. However, Bayern’s form cannot be overlooked. They jave scored thirteen goals after the two-month football hiatus, conceding only two.
That said, Bayer Leverkusen’s attacking plethora will be something to look forward to as they welcome back Kevin Volland, who will be looking to set the record straight after missing out on nearly four months of football.