Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Dortmund Preview: Hosts hunting Champions League berth against brilliant BVB

Borussia Dortmund are sailing away but Bayer Leverkusen remain hopeful of finishing in the Top Three, as they take each other on at the BayArena in a mouthwatering clash on Sunday afternoon.

Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Dortmund Preview: Hosts hunting Champions League berth against brilliant BVB
Image credit: VAVEL (Jonny Walsh)

Second-placed Borussia Dortmund visit third-placed Bayer Leverkusen at the BayArena this Sunday, kick-off being at 14:30 GMT, with the intention of keeping the Bundesliga title race going.

Leverkusen keen on solid result

Bayer Leverkusen haven't been as convincing as they may like at home - winning only half of their games and registering only 18 out of the 30 available points at the BayArena. An even more daunting statisitc reveals that Levekusen haven't beaten Dortmund at home since the 2006/07, just shy of 10 long years.

Despite this, Leverkusen have had a fairly good start to their Rückrunde and continue to lead the chasing pack with two wins and two draws in the Bundesliga, including a valiant goalless home draw to leaders Bayern Munich. Last time out in the league, Leverkusen fought back from behind in a dogged match to take all three points away at Darmstadt 98, with Julian Brandt scoring the winner.

Brandt pokes home the winner away to Darmstadt | Photo: Bundesliga
Brandt pokes home the winner away to Darmstadt | Photo: Bundesliga

In other competitions, Roger Schmidt's side have experienced a mixed bag. A poor performance at home to Werder Bremen left much to be desired and, subsequently, the Grün-Weiß sent Leverkusen packing from the DFB-Pokal, albeit with help from a Wendell sending off.

No such mistake was made in the first-leg of their Europa League last-32 tie with Primeira Liga leaders Sporting Clube de Portugal, however, with Karim Bellarabi gifting his side a slender lead in Lisbon, with the aid of a man advantage.

Keeping the Yellow Submarine buoyant in the title race

Dortmund haven't been as good on the road as they have been at their home fortress, but this by no means diminishes how well they have performed. Earning six away wins from 11 keeps them above their rivals, not to mention they are the top scorers away from home in the league.

Dortmund remain unbeaten at the BayerArena since 2006/07 and since that time they have picked up three wins and five draws, a very encouraging statistic, and the reverse fixture saw Dortmund run riot in a 3-0 home win.

It comes as no shock to realise Thomas Tuchel's team have enjoyed a strong and superior Rückrunde to their Black and Red counterparts. Dortmund boast three wins and one draw, scoring six goals. The draw, understandably, coming away to Hertha BSC at the Olympiastadion.

Their last outing saw a valiant Hannover 96 become victim to the Westfalenstadion​'s aura as a well-hit Henrikh Mkhitaryan strike was enough to separate the sides in what was a relatively one-sided contest.

Mkhitaryan fires home the winner against Hannover | Photo: ESPN
Mkhitaryan fires home the winner against Hannover | Photo: ESPN

In contrast to Leverkusen, die Schwarzgelbe eased into the DFB-Pokal semi-finals with a 3-1 away win to VfB Stuttgart, at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, where the infamous tennis balls incident took place in protest to high ticket prices.

Dortmund also won their first-leg tie in the Europa League to another Portuguese giant, FC Porto. Lukasz Piszczek and Marco Reus capped off a dominant display at home to carry a lead into the second-leg in Portugal next week.  

Both clubs have their say

On Friday, following the trip to Lisbon, Roger Schmidt heaped praise on their opponents, saying BVB are "a really strong team" despite acknowledging they will have their "chance against them."

Reflecting on the win over Sporting, Schmidt praised his own team by adding: "If we’re going to get a result in Leverkusen then we’ll need to play like we did on Thursday night. That shows the character of our team."

Die Werkself remain without Lars Bender, Robbie Kruse and ex-Dortmunder Kevin Kampl. Also out is top scorer Javier Hernández, who is still recovering from a muscle injury sustained in the Cup loss to Werder Bremen.

After the win over Hannover, Thomas Tuchel said, "We feel ready for the challenges ahead," and continued to look to the future, saying that they "have to improve" but that it "was important to top up on self-confidence" so that they "can go into the coming matches in the right frame of mind."

Tuchel is still without  İlkay Gündoğan and Roman Weidenfeller, who both missed Thursday's match through illness. The club also confirmed that Sven Bender and Marco Reus should be able to play despite knocks.