Bayer Leverkusen vs FC Köln preview: How to watch, kick-off time, team news, predicted lineups, and ones to watch
Photo by Pool via Getty images

Bayer Leverkusen will welcome FC Köln to the intimidating BayArena on Sunday afternoon in what is a vital match for both teams and their European ambitions.

Leverkusen will come into the match having secured a surprising but brilliant one-all draw against reigning champions Bayern Munich last weekend as well as a disappointing three-goal-to-two defeat against Atalanta B.C. in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 tie.

Should Leverkusen win on Sunday they can further tighten their grip on third place and qualifying for the champions league next season. Also if results go their way they could find themselves five points ahead of TSG Hoffenheim and even more ahead of RB Leipzig and SC Freiburg in fifth and sixth place.

Meanwhile Köln will come into the match having suffered a narrow one goal to nil defeat to Hoffenheim that keeps them still sitting in eight place, however crucially for them they are only five points behind Freiburg in the race for a European spot.

Unlike Leverkusen Köln were not involved in any match during the week meaning they should come into the match on Sunday well prepared as they have had a full week to train as well as being very fresh.

Team news

Leverkusen head coach Gerardo Seoane has got several injury concerns ahead of the match. Russian goalkeeper Andrey Lunyov is definitely going to miss the match as he recovers from an ankle injury while talismanic striker Patrik Schick is also set to miss out. Robert Andrich and Karim Bellarabi are also doubts.

In contrast Köln manager Steffen Baumgart has a fully fit squad of players to pick from, with the exception of striker Mark Uth, who was not included in the matchday squad on Sunday.

Predicted lineups

Bayer Leverkusen: Hradecky, Frimpong, Tah, Tapsoba, Bakker  Aranguiz, Demirbay, Adli, Wirtz, Diaby, Alario

FC Koln: Schwäbe, Schmitz, Kilian, Hübers, Hector, Skhiri, Özcan  Ljubicic, Duda, Kainz, Modeste

Players to watch

Moussa Diaby

Leverkusen have had a brilliant season up to this point and currently find themselves sitting in third place. One of the main reasons for their impressive performances is striker Schick however he is injured which means Leverkusen will be looking to French midfielder Moussa Diaby.

Diaby is the club's second-highest goalscorer having scored 16 goals so far this season only four behind leading goalscorer Schick. Diaby's rapid pace, directness finishing ability mean he will be on of Leverkusen's main attacking threats on Sunday.

Anthony Modeste

Köln currently find themselves sitting in eighth place just five points behind the last European sport currently held by Freiburg in second. One of the main reasons why they are in a such a good position is striker Anthony Modeste.

Modeste is miles clear of every other player at the club in terms of goals, having scored an impressive 15 goals this season with Mark Uth in second having scored 3. Köln will be hoping that Modeste's physical presence can cause chaos in the Leverkusen defence.

Last time out

The last time these two faced each other was an entertaining two all draw on matchday 9.

Leverkusen started the match brightly and got a big chance in the fifth minute. Schick received the ball on the left hand side of the box however his left footed shot was brilliantly saved by the Koln goalkeeper.

However Leverkusen's pressure payed off and they got their first goal in the 15th minute. Diaby won the ball back in his own half before galloping forward towards the Köln goal and sliding a ball through to Schick who comfortably dispatched his shot past the helpless Koln goalkeeper.

Leverkusen got a second goal barely two minutes later. Leverkusen put together a brilliant passing move before Andrich received the ball on the edge of the box and had a shot however it was blocked, but the ball fell to Schick who again rifled the ball into the Koln goal.

Köln started the second half much better and in the 63rd minute they managed to get a goal back. Koln managed to get the ball out wide on the left wing to full back Jonas Hector who whipped in a wicked ball towards the penalty spot that Modest was able to get on the end of and slot the ball into leverkusen's goal.

Köln then completed the comeback by managing to get another goal in the 82nd minute. Leverkusen won a free kick and sent a long ball up to Sebastian Andersson who flicked the ball on with his head into the path of modest who headed the ball past the Leverkusen goalkeeper.

How to watch

Unfortunately the match will not be shown live in the UK, but fans in the US can watch it on ESPN+.

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