Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen Preview: Gladbach look to keep pressure on second-placed Dortmund

Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen look to make it back-to-back victories following convincing away wins as the Bundesliga returned from its two-month suspension last weekend. 

Likely to be the headline clash this weekend, the pair will be looking to maintain their pushes for Champions League football next season.
•    Form (Last Six Games)

Gladbach: WDWLWW
Leverkusen: WWWDWW

•    Story Behind The Match

Gladbach are currently third in the Bundesliga, just two points behind second-placed Borussia Dortmund and six behind leaders Bayern Munich with eight games left to play.

The Foals strolled to victory against Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend, as two goals in the opening 10 minutes saw them come out 3-1 winners and leapfrog RB Leipzig into third. French duo Marcus Thuram and Allasane Plea extended their tallies to seven and nine respectively for the season  before left-back Rami Bensebaini completed the scoring.

Marco Rose's side have only lost twice in their previous 10 Bundesliga matches, winning five of those including the 4-1 thrashing of Dusseldorf back in Feburary. Die Borussen have won all three of their previous encounters against Leverkusen including a 2-1 win in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.

Leverkusen come into the tie just two points behind third-placed Gladbach, winning a very impressive eight of their last 10 Bundesliga fixtures, scoring 27 goals in the process. 

Die Werkself thrashed Werder Bremen 4-1 on Monday night, maintaining fifth spot as attacking midfielder Florian Wirtz became the youngest player ever to feature for the club as well as the third youngest in Bundesliga history at just 17 years and 16 days old beating the record of teammate Kai Havertz. A brace from the aforementioned Havertz as well as goals from Mitchell Wieser and Kerem Demirbay saw them romp to victory and extend Bremen's winless run to seven matches.

Peter Bosz's side went a Bundesliga record 26 games undefeated against Gladbach between 1994 and 2010, however have lost their last three meetings with their Champions League rivals.

    Team News

The Foals will once again be without highly-rated defensive midfielder Denis Zakaria as well as winger Fabian Johnson. The pair missed the 3-1 victory over Frankfurt with knee and muscular injuries respectively.

Rose's side have no fresh injury concerns however with impressive the impressive forward trio of Plea, Thuram and Breel Embolo looking set to continue. The trio have scored and assisted 41 goals between them this season (23G, 18A). 

Similarly Bayer have a near fully fit squad to select from with only defender Lars Bender and forward Kevin Volland looking set to miss out with foot injuries. 

Left-back Remy Bensebaini should continue at left-back as Bosz looks to consolidate his attacking options rather than the more defensive minded Oscar Wendt. The Algerian has five goals and an assist to his name in just 12 Bundesliga appearances, most notably scoring a brace in a 2-1 win against Bayern Munich back in December.

•    One To Watch

Predictably all eyes look set to be on Leverkusen attacking midfielder Kai Havertz. In his last five Bundesliga matches, the 20-year-old has been directly involved in at least one goal (four goals, three assists) which has promptly attracted the interest of Europe's top sides.

The German international has 12 goals and assists in his last 10 games in all competitions, including a man-of-the-match performance in the Europa League as he recorded a goal and two assists as they saw off Portuguese side Porto 3-1 away from home. 

Often likened to fellow compatriot Mesut Ozil in terms of his playing style, Havertz remains the youngest player to reach 100 Bundesliga appearances, recording 56 goals and assists (32G, 24A) in just 111 league appearances. The youngster is yet to score against Gladbach but has three assists against them in seven appearances.

•    Line-Ups 

Gladbach: Sommer (c) - Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Bensebaini - Strobl, Neuhaus - Herrmann, Embolo, Thuram - Plea (4-2-3-1).

Leverkusen: Hradecky - Weiser, S. Bender, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven - Aranguiz, Demirbay - Bellarabi, Amiri, Diaby - Havertz (c) (4-2-3-1).