Bayer Leverkusen - Schalke 04 Preview: Two sides neck and neck in the table square off at the BayArena
The two teams will tango again (photo: reuters)

The BayArena is the venue for one of the weekend's most intriguing matches as Bayer Leverkusen play host to Schalke 04 in a meeting between two sides eager to gain an edge in the race for Champions League places.

Both teams are averaging just over a goal a game this season so one shouldn't expect a thriller but we should be in for a tightly-contested match with three important points on the line.

Team News:

Bayer Leverkusen: There is good news for Bayer Leverkusen as Christoph Kramer and Roberto Hilbert are expected to be available for selection for Sunday but midfielder Lars Bender will have to wait until the new year for his return.

Roger Schmidt's side have already lost five times in the Bundesliga this season, just two less than they lost all of last season. They're coming off a 3-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend, but a win this Sunday will be crucial to their European hopes as plenty of teams look to be in the Champions League spots.

Schalke 04: André Breitenreiter's side have had to deal with a few key injuries this season but are set to welcome back Atso Uchida back to the side after he returned to training. Fabian Giefer also returned to training while Felipe Santana, Marco Höger and Benedikt Höwedes still struggle with their injuries. 

Schalke will still be without Johannes Geis on Sunday as he serves the final game of his five-game suspension. After a 3-1 home defeat to league leaders Bayern Munich last week, Schalke need a much better performance against a team above them on goal difference.

Background: 

The last three meetings between the two teams have been separated by just the one goal.

Bayer Leverkusen won both fixtures last season by a score of 1-0 while Schalke won both games the season before.

Schalke have won four of the last ten meetings with Leverkusen winning five. The lone draw was a 2-2 stalemate in April of 2013.

Both teams currently lie on 20 points from 13 games this season, with Bayer Leverkusen ahead in the table on goal difference.

Players to Watch:

Bayer Leverkusen - Javier Hernandez: Better known as "Chicharito", the former-Man United man has been on fire for his new club this season and will be the man Bayer Leverkusen look to for goals on Sunday. With six goals so far this season, Chicharito should see plenty of chances to add to that tally against a defence that's conceded 10 goals in their last four games.

Schalke 04 - Klaas-Jan Huntelaar: The Dutchman is level with Leroy Sané with four goals as Schalke's top scorer in the league this season. If the visitors are to stand a chance at collecting all three points on Sunday, they'll need their star striker to have his shooting boots on. Four goals from 13 games isn't good enough for Huntelaar's standards and he'll be aiming to add to that total and put his side in the Champions League places, if other results go their way.

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