Bayer Leverkusen will be looking to solidify their place in the Bundesliga’s Champions League spots when they welcome Augsburg to the BayArena on Saturday.
The hosts picked up their first win in six games last weekend, whilst the visitors are winless in four in their quest to avoid the drop.
Despite lacking a clinical edge in front of goal last weekend, Leverkusen put in a remarkable attacking display at their Rhein neighbours Borussia Monchengladbach.
Gerardo Seoane’s men registered an incredible total of 32 shots on their opponent’s goal, of which 14 hit the target, only for Yann Sommer’s excellent goalkeeping display, coupled with their poor quality of finishing, preventing them from recording a far more comfortable scoreline than the eventual 2-1 win.
Patrik Schick missed an opportunity to open the scoring early in the second half, with his saved penalty being turned home by Robert Andrich from the rebound.
However, the Bundesliga’s second highest goalscorer this season, with only Robert Lewandowski ahead of him, made no mistake when he extended their lead to 2-0 later in the half, which was the Czech Republic striker’s 18th league goal in only his 16th appearance of the campaign.
Nico Elvedi pulled one back for their opponents to set up a nervy finish despite the onslaught from Die Werkself, but even though Kerem Demirbay missed their second penalty of the evening in the closing stages, Leverkusen sealed the three points.
As mentioned above, the victory was Leverkusen’s first in six matches across all competitions either side of the winter break, and was one that lifted Seoane’s side to third in the table ahead of matchday 20 at the weekend.
With eight points separating Saturday’s hosts from second-placed Borussia Dortmund, and a 14-point gap to leaders Bayern Munich, sealing a return to the Champions League will be the goal between now and May, and Seoane will be hoping his side can put together some momentum by recording back-to-back victories at the weekend.
Meanwhile, Augsburg head to Leverkusen for their third consecutive game of 2022 against a side chasing European football next season, with previous matches at Hoffenheim and at home to Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend to begin the New Year.
After falling 3-1 in Hoffenheim, Markus Weinzierl’s side bounced back to put in a solid display and earn a 1-1 draw against Die Adler last Sunday, with Michael Gregoritsch netting for the second game in a row to earn his side a point.
As previously mentioned, it does leave Fuggerstadter winless in their last four fixtures, and with just one victory across the last seven overall.
As a result, Augsburg begin matchday 20 in 15th place in the Bundesliga, with just one point separating them from Arminia Bielefeld and Stuttgart in the relegation playoff spot and drop zone respectively.
Three points would therefore be vital for the relegation-threatened visitors on Saturday, but that remains a tough ask for a side so poor on their travels this season, with just seven of their 19 points, and six of their 19 goals scored, being picked up away from the WWK Arena.
In addition, Augsburg’s past 22 meetings with their hosts have yielded no victories, so if Weinzierl’s side are to pull away from danger at the weekend, they will have to do it against all the odds.
Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form:
Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions):
Augsburg Bundesliga form:
We say: Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Augsburg
Leverkusen will be expected to win comfortably on Saturday, with their visitors enduring poor form on the road this season and a dreadful record against their opponents overall.
Schick will be hoping to continue his fine form in front of goal, and we expect him to be amongst the scorers in a dominant Leverkusen display.