Bayer Leverkusen have been in exceptional form this season and are the only unbeaten team in the Bundesliga, resulting in Alonso being linked with his former clubs. 

Most recently Liverpool, who shockingly announced today that Jürgen Klopp will be leaving the club at the end of the season.

The arrival of the African Cup of Nations has resulted in Alonso having numerous key absentees such as Edmond Tapsoba, Odilon Kossounou, Amine Adli on international duty.

Top-scorer Victor Boniface, on international duty with Nigeria, was injured on the eve of the tournament and is not scheduled to return until April.

Despite this, Leverkusen have done exceptionally well to ensure all three points were taken from their two previous games against tricky opposition in RB Leipzig and FC Augsburg. 

Getting the better of Augsburg was something Borussia Mönchengladbach failed to do last week, despite taking the lead. 

Gladbach were on a high after beating high-flying VfB Stuttgart in the week before, but could not repeat the trick against a resurgent Augsburg side under Jess Thorup.

The turbulent summer transfer window and structural reshape at Gladbach has made this season one of transition for Head Coach Gerardo Seoane, who has his side in a decent position despite the circumstances.

The Foals boss will undoubtedly have his side fired up for what promises to be an enticing local clash, where form could easily go out of the window.

  • Team news

Bayer Leverkusen

The hosts are missing several key players this week through injury, suspension and international absentees, forcing Alonso to shuffle the pack.

Jonathan Tah misses this week’s clash due to suspension after a culmination of yellow cards. Exequiel Palacios picked up a thigh injury against RB Leipzig last weekend and is set for a spell on the sidelines for the time being.

Odilon Kossounou, Edmond Tapsoba and Amine Adli are all still with their national team at the African Cup of Nations. 

Injured at Nigeria’s training camp in Dubai, Victor Boniface underwent surgery upon his return to Germany, and is expected to return at the beginning of April.

Brazilian fullback Arthur has been absent for a large portion of this season, his latest setback occurred in December and the club estimated he was not likely to return to training for three months.

Borussia Mönchengladbach 

Seoane confirmed in the pre-match press conference that there will be a number of potential absentees for the Foals this week. 

Long-term injured Jonas Omlin having trained individually as he continues his recovery. Max Wober also returned to individual training, and set to return to the squad next week. 

Rocco Reitz, Alassane Pleá and Christoph Kramer also trained individually on Thursday. Seoane says Reitz in particular is a doubt for the trip to Leverkusen after missing the second half against Augsburg due to injury.

Manu Koné, Marvin Friedrich and Jordan managed to take part in training on Thursday, but Seoane is not sure if they will all make the trip to Leverkusen regarding their muscle problems.

Czech striker Tomáš Čvančara is set to be sidelined for several weeks after he injured his ankle in training last week, while Ko Itakura is away on international duty with Japan at the Asian Cup.

  • Likely lineups

Bayer Leverkusen

Hradecky (c); Stanisic, Andrich, Hincapie; Frimpong, Puerta, Xhaka, Grimaldo; Hofmann, Wirtz; Schick

Borussia Mönchengladbach

Nicolas; Scally, Friedrich, Elvedi, Netz; Honorat, Weigl (c), Kone, Hack; Plea, Jordan

  • Key players

Bayer Leverkusen - Florian Wirtz

 

Florian Wirtz is Leverkusen’s chief creative force and the brightest spark in Alonso’s attack. The 19-year-old has eight goals and 12 assists in all competitions this season.

Playing on the left behind the striker, most recently Patrik Schick, Wirtz has the ability to play pinpoint accurate passes to a teammate or take on the whole of the opposition’s defence and find the back of the net as he did against Cologne earlier this season.

The playmaker linked up brilliantly with the injured Boniface, but has to adapt with his replacement Schick following the Nigerians injury.

As the Czech striker gets back up to speed following his long-term absence, there is little doubt that the two will be able to contribute to each other’s goal tallies for the rest of the season.

Borussia Mönchengladbach - Alassane Pleá 

 

Alassane Pleá is Gladbach’s top goal scorer this season and has impressed in the absence of Marcus Thuram alongside newcomers Čvančara and Jordan.

His seven goals and three assists is an impressive tally in what has been a difficult season with many key departures.

Despite the fact the Frenchman has scored seven times this season, the French forward is experiencing a goal-drought of sorts, with his ast strike coming on Gameweek 14 against Union Berlin.

Deployed as the striker in a front three flanked by Robin Hack and Franck Honorat when Die Fohlen beat VfB Stuttgart, he has also played on the left of a front two alongside Jordan against Augsburg most recently.

  • Match details

Where is the match being played?

This Saturday night clash is being played at the BayArena in Leverkusen.

What time is kick-off?

Kick-off in Leverkusen is at 17:30 (GMT). 

How can I watch?

Viewers in the UK can watch on the Sky Sports Football channel, with the coverage starting at 17:20. Alternatively, the game is being streamed for free on the Sky Sports Football YouTube channel. 

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