Bayer Leverkusen vs RB Leipzig preview: Crunch game in top-four race
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
Sunday's contest between Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig sees the sides that occupy third and fourth position face-off, with both teams desperate for a win that would boost their Champions League hopes.
|Emil Forsberg and André Silva.||Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0|
Leverkusen may sit in third spot, but their place in the top four is far from secure, with fifth-placed Freiburg just a point behind following their 3-0 victory over Bochum on Saturday.
The race for the Champions League places is set to go to the wire, and for Leverkusen, they must negotiate a tough set of fixtures. They will face four top-half sides in their last five games, starting with a difficult contest against Leipzig, who sit just a point behind Die Werkself in fourth place.
Seven points from their last three games suggests that Leverkusen are on fine form, although Die Werkself would have been disappointed to drop points last weekend, when they played out a goalless draw against Bochum.
A home encounter awaits on Sunday and the hosts will be looking to continue their superb home form, having won four of their last five home Bundesliga matches. Perhaps, what is more impressive is that Leverkusen have scored 14 goals across those four home victories.
Florian Wirtz, Jeremie Frimpong, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Amine Adli are all expected to miss the rest of the season, while the hosts are also unable to call upon the services of Karim Bellarabi, who has a thigh problem.
Leipzig have a busy schedule ahead of them after advancing to the Europa League semi-finals in midweek thanks to a 2-0 win in Bergamo against Atalanta. As a result, Die Roten Bullen will face Rangers in the final four, while they also have a DFB-Pokal semi-final against Union Berlin on Wednesday to look forward to.
Although they will be dreaming of completing a double, Leipzig must remain focused on their current battle to finish inside the top-four.
Die Roten Bullen know that a win on Sunday would be crucial, as it would help them leapfrog their opponents into third place.
As well as looking to collect three points, Leipzig will also be aiming to extend their current unbeaten run to 13 matches in all competitions.
Domenico Tedesco's side will not be daunted by Sunday's away trip after winning all of their last seven away matches across all competitions by an aggregate 26-4 scoreline.
The visitors will be hoping to continue their current fine run of form, as they bid to avenge the 3-1 defeat they suffered against Leverkusen in the reverse fixture.
Amadou Haidara is the only known injury absentee for Leipzig. Christopher Nkunku, starred against Atalanta in midweek, netting a brace to propel his side to the Europa League semi-finals, and the Frenchman will need to be on form once again if Leipzig are to pick up all three points.