Bayer Leverkusen will be looking to bounce back from last weekend’s Bundesliga defeat when they host Arminia Bielefeld at the BayArena on Saturday.
The hosts surrendered their lead in the last few minutes during the loss, which was their first of 2022, whilst the visitors returned to winning ways to rekindle their excellent form during the New Year so far.
When Lucas Alario came off the bench to fire Leverkusen back into the lead at Mainz 05 last Friday, Gerardo Seoane’s side looked set to extend their winning run to five consecutive matches in the Bundesliga.
However, a capitulation within the final six minutes of normal time saw Die Werkself fall to a 3-2 loss against Die Nullfunfer, meaning their unbeaten start to the New Year was over.
For all of their possession on the night, Leverkusen created very few opportunities in front of their opponents’ goal, but as they have done for most of the campaign, they were clinical with their finishing, but their hosts deservedly got something out of the game in the end thanks to a barrage of late pressure.
Despite the setback, Leverkusen head into matchday 24 sitting nicely in third spot in the Bundesliga table, with a four-point cushion remaining over Hoffenheim in fifth outside of the Champions League places.
However, defeat allowed the chasing pack of numerous teams to cut the gap on Leverkusen inside the top four, so if Seoane’s side were unable to return to winning ways on Saturday, their European charge could well come under pressure once more.
Should their deadly strike force continue to remain prolific though, following a healthy total of 35 goals being scored in their last 11 league outings, it is difficult to see Die Werkself failing to return to Europe’s grand stage for the first time in three seasons come May.
Although, a failure to keep a clean sheet since November could well threaten their objective, so Seoane will remain in search for a solution to his side’s defensive woes over the coming weeks, whilst ensuring their success at the other end of the pitch is not impacted by any changes.
Meanwhile, visitors Bielefeld boosted their survival hopes at the other end of the table by seeing off European hopefuls Union Berlin in a 1-0 victory at the Schuco-Arena last Saturday.
Masaya Okugawa netted the only goal of the game shortly after half time, in what was a hard-fought encounter against a similarly well-drilled outfit.
Victory saw Frank Kramer’s side provide the perfect response to their 2-0 loss at Hoffenheim a week earlier, which was their first setback during an otherwise tremendous run of form either side of the winter break in Germany.
The 15 points collected across the last eight fixtures have seen Die Arminen rise out of the relegation places and into 14th spot ahead of the weekend action, with three points separating themselves from Augsburg in the relegation playoff spot, and a six-point gap being held over Stuttgart in the automatic relegation places.
With clean sheets being recorded in each of their five Bundesliga victories this campaign, Kramer’s organised unit remains key to their chances of survival come May, which will surely be put to an almighty test against a firing Leverkusen front line on Saturday.
Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form:
Arminia Bielefeld Bundesliga form:
We say: Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Arminia Bielefeld
Bielefeld are likely to make this a tough test for Leverkusen on Saturday, particularly with Schick missing for the hosts on the day.
As a result, we cannot see this being a comfortable home win for Die Werkself like many would expect, but we are predicting a home win by a narrow margin nonetheless, with their defeat last week being an exception during a strong run of form for the Champions League hopefuls.