Bayer Leverkusen will be looking to continue their pursuit of a top-four position in the Bundesliga table when they welcome FC Koln to BayArena on Friday night.
The home side are currently sixth in the division, eight points behind fourth-placed Freiburg, while Koln sit 11th in the table, boasting 35 points from their 30 league matches during the 2022-23 campaign.
Leverkusen will enter Friday’s clash with Koln off the back of a goalless draw with Union Berlin last weekend, which stretched their unbeaten run in Germany’s top flight to nine matches.
Xabi Alonso’s side have won six of their last eight in the league, with the run of form seeing them rise into sixth position in the table, eight points behind fourth-placed Freiburg in the race to qualify for the group stage of next season’s Champions League.
Leverkusen do have another route into next season’s European Cup, though, as they are in the semi-finals of the Europa League, preparing to take on Roma, with the first leg set to take place in Italy on May 11.
Alonso’s team have picked up 26 points from their 15 home league games this season, and they will be welcoming a Koln outfit that have won just three Bundesliga away fixtures during the 2022-23 campaign.
Leverkusen, who finished third in Germany’s top flight last season, have a lot of work to do in order to claim a top-four position in the closing stages of the campaign, but it would not be a surprise to see them in contention entering the final straight due to their recent form.
Koln, meanwhile, will enter this match off the back of a 1-0 home defeat to Freiburg, which proved to be their first loss in Germany’s top flight since March 23.
A total of 35 points from 30 matches has left Steffen Baumgart’s side in 11th position in the table, 13 points behind their opponents in Friday’s contest.
Koln are only actually seven points ahead of 16th-placed Bochum, so they will be looking over their shoulder at a vital stage of the season, especially if Leverkusen triumph in Friday’s contest.
The Cologne-based outfit finished seventh in Germany’s top flight last season, which saw them qualify for the Europa Conference League playoff round; they competed in the group stage of the competition but could not advance to the latter stages, finishing third in Group D behind Nice and Partizan.
Koln recorded a 1-0 victory over Leverkusen in the corresponding match last season, but the Black and Reds ran out 2-1 winners in the reverse clash between the two sides last November.
Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form:
Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions):
FC Koln Bundesliga form:
We say: Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 FC Koln
This has the potential to be a tricky match for Leverkusen, but it is difficult to back against the home side here. A win for the Black and Reds would move them to within five points of the top four, and we are expecting them to secure a vital win in Friday night’s affair.