SV Darmstadt find themselves bottom of the Bundesliga table with just 11 points and two wins on the board.

Their last win came against FC Augsburg in October, a result which cost Enrico Maaßen’s his job as head coach of Die Fuggerstädter.

Darmstadt’s comebacks against superior opposition in TSG Hoffenheim and Eintracht Frankfurt, prove that there is plenty of spirit within the Darmstadt coaching staff and the squad.

Goalkeeper Marcel Schuhen praised the atmosphere in the home game against Hessen-rivals Frankfurt, with the hope that the Stadion am Böllenfalltor can become a real cauldron of noise and a place no team wants to visit.

Leverkusen Trainer Xabi Alonso also spoke highly of the atmospheres the Darmstadt faithful can conjure, with his side being the next club to visit after a disappointing result against Borussia Mönchengladbach last week.

Leverkusen were utterly dominant throughout, but ultimately failed to convert the chances made.

Leverkusen lacked a cutting edge to pierce a Gladbach backline that had to absorb an onslaught of pressure.

The league leaders must not let more points slip through their fingers, with Bayern’s impending visit to the BayArena in Gameweek 21 who moved within two points after their win against Augsburg.

  • Team news:

SV Darmstadt:

Clemens Riedel, who left the pitch early against Union Berlin will miss the rest of the season following a successful surgery, Lieberknecht confirmed. He joins Scotsman Fraser Hornby on the road to recovery for next season.

Die Lilien Trainer Lieberknecht also said Braydon Manu, Fabian Nürnberger, Julian Justvan, Aaron Seydel, Mathias Honsak and Thomas Isherwood are all unavailable for Leverkusen’s visit.

January recruit Sebastian Polter may be handed his debut on Saturday afternoon.

Bayer Leverkusen:

Morocco and Burkina Faso have both been knocked out of AFCON, which has resulted in an early return for Amine Adli and Edmond Tapsoba, who are now available for selection.

Alonso said Borja Iglesias is fully fit and in contention to make his first appearance for Die Werkself on Saturday.

When asked whether Granit Xhaka, who is one yellow card away from a suspension will be rotated, Alonso did not confirm or deny. 

He also hinted that injured midfielder Exequiel Palacios is nearing a return, but will not be travelling to Darmstadt.

  • Predicted lineups:

SV Darmstadt: 

Schuhen; Klarer, Zimmermann, Maglica; Bader, Holland (c), Karić, Franjić, Holtmann, Skarke; Pfeiffer

Bayer Leverkusen:

Hrádecký (c); Stanišić, Tah, Hincapié; Frimpong, Grimaldo, Andrich, Puerta, Grimaldo; Hofmann, Wirtz; Schick

Key players: 

SV Darmstadt - Tim Skarke

Tim Skarke joined the club on-loan in the summer from Union Berlin, having spent the last six months of last season in Gelsenkirchen, at the troubled Schalke 04 who were ultimately relegated.

The Heidenheim native scored one goal and assisted another in nine appearances at Schalke, but it was clear that Schalke’s issues were deep-rooted, evidenced by their position in the 2.Bundesliga this season.

Skarke is Darmstadt's most prolific goal scorer, with six in 17 matches while also providing two assists in as many games.

Capable of playing on both flanks, Skarke usually finds himself deployed on the left side of the pitch. 

The 27-year-old has showcased the ability to break away from opposition defenders with a burst of pace, scoring some very well-taken goals. 

Including a spectacular brace against TSG Hoffenheim in Gameweek 16, where Darmstadt fought back three times to claim a point in Sinsheim.

Bayer Leverkusen - Florian Wirtz

Florian Wirtz has not scored for Leverkusen since Gameweek 16, in his side’s 4-0 win over VfL Bochum, but has still managed to provide 13 goal contributions in 19 Bundesliga matches.

Wirtz combined tremendously well with summer signing Victor Boniface, playing off him in a manner that mutually benefited Leverkusen’s attack massively.

In Boniface’s absence, Patrik Schick has not been able to replicate that productivity, having just returned from a lengthy injury setback.

Leverkusen have reacted to the fact that Boniface will be missing with injury until April, by signing Real Betis forward and Spanish international Borja Iglesias

Iglesias is a goal scorer, but also a provider and outlet for the team in a similar profile to that of Boniface.

Iglesias’ timely arrival could relieve the pressure on Wirtz having to rely solely on his individual brilliance, as another source of creativity through the middle of the pitch.

  • Match details: 

Where is the game being played?

The game is being played at the Stadion am Böllenfalltor in Darmstadt.

What time is kick-off?

Kick-off in Darmstadt is at (14:30) GMT.

Where can I watch?

Unfortunately viewers in the UK are unable to watch this game on TV, due to the 3PM blackout rule. Highlights will be available on the Bundesliga app and website at full-time.

About the author