In a season of what can only be described as ‘should have been’ for the two German sides that meet on Friday, Bayer Leverkusen and VfL Wolfsburg will both be looking to build a positive run of form, following a season of mediocrity and inconsistency at the hands of injuries.
Leverkusen finished in a respectable fourth place last season, in comparison to Wolfsburg’s almost immaculate season seeing them finish in second, 10 points behind champions Bayern Munich. The clubs based in North and West Germany will enter Friday’s Bundesliga game in 6th and 8th place.
Head to head
Wolfsburg have been crowned winners in their last four meetings with Leverkusen, however the home team have only lost one of their 18 previous games at the BayArena when lining up against Wolfsburg. The reverse fixture between the two in the Bundesliga earlier in the season resulted in three points for Wolfsburg after Julian Draxler’s late goal secured a home win for Dieter Hecking’s side in a 2-1 victory.
6th place Bayer Leverkusen will go into the game on the back of a comfortable 2-0 victory in Stuttgart before the International break. After three consecutive losses at the end February, Roger Schmidt’s side have had to endure an uphill climb to reach the European qualification spots if they wish to compete next season. However, Leverkusen have been building a positive run of form, unbeaten in their last three league games and just two points below Schalke in 4th place.
As for their visitors on Friday, Wolfsburg will be eager to resurrect their recent run of form after a 1-0 loss to Hoffenheim and a 1-1 draw with Darmstadt in their last two fixtures in the Bundesliga. Having just drawn Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter finals, Hecking and his team will be desperate to enter the game in a positive run of form to attempt to take down the European giants.
Team news and predicted line-ups
For Leverkusen, midfield maestro Hakan Calhanoglu looks to be returning to the starting line up. Charles Aranguiz and Sven Bender will be in the matchday squad after injury, which will be a huge boost. Kevin Kampl and Ömer Toprak are ruled out of the game with injury.
(4-4-2) Leno; Henrichs, Tah, Ramalho, Wendell; Bellarabi, Kramer, Calhanoglu, Brandt; Chicharito, Kießling.
With recent doubts over the availability of defender Ricardo Rodriguez for the upcoming game, Wolfsburg will also be without Paul Seguin, Bas Dost, Naldo, Sebastian Jung and Diego Benaglio also due to injury.
(4-2-3-1) Casteels; Vieirinha, Dante, Knoche, Schäfer; Luiz Gustavo, Guilavogui; Caligiuri, Arnold, Schürrle; Kruse.
Up for grabs
As the international break comes to a close, the business end of the Bundesliga is firmly in the thoughts of both teams who will both be keen to continue their European adventures next season through league qualification.
With challenging fixtures ahead for both Borussia and Schalke, Leverkusen will be sure to take advantage of any mistakes to break in to the top four; if, they can steady their own form which has been letting them down on many occasions this season. With Mainz now on their tails just one point behind, it would seem a vital three points up for grabs on Friday.
As for Wolfsburg who sit steadily in 8th place, five points ahead of Köln in 9th; it is crucial that they do not let points slip as Mainz begin to pull away from their grasps with three points in the gap and just SIX match weeks remaining in the Bundesliga.
With injuries delaying the potential success of both teams this season, it is sure to be an interesting and thrilling contest, as the two evenly matched sides go head to head in match week 28 for essential points in the closing stages of the Bundesliga.