Augsburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen preview:
Die Werkself aiming for a third straight away win
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
Although they lost at home to Borussia Dortmund in their most recent outing, Bayer Leverkusen will have the chance to claim a third consecutive away victory when they face Augsburg on Friday.
|Photo: Bayer 04 Leverkusen|
Augsburg have experienced mixed results since the World Cup break. An entertaining 4-3 defeat to Borussia Dortmund was followed by a narrow 1-0 home win over Gladbach. However, they were unable to claim consecutive victories last weekend, losing away to Freiburg.
Mergim Berisha equalised from the penalty spot after former Augsburg striker Michael Gregoritsch had given Freiburg the lead, but goals from Lucas Höler and Philipp Lienhart condemned Augsburg to a 3-1 defeat.
The Fuggerstädter are currently in a battle to remain in the topflight. They head into Friday's encounter in 14th place, with only two points separating them from the bottom three.
Augsburg currently have the joint-worst home record in the Bundesliga with eight points from their nine home league games. However, after beating Gladbach in their most recent match at the WWK Arena, Augsburg have the chance to claim consecutive home victories for the first time this season.
Irvin Cardona, Ruben Vargas, Reece Oxford, Iago, Andre Hahn and Tobias Strobl are all sidelined for Augsburg. They are also unable to call upon Ermedin Demirovic, who is suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
Nathanaël Mbuku and Renato Veiga joined the club in the final two days of the January transfer window, and the pair could be included in the matchday squad on Saturday.
Leverkusen will be looking to bounce back after their run of five successive league wins was ended by a 2-0 home defeat to Borussia Dortmund. The result leaves Xabi Alonso's side in ninth position, eight points adrift of the top six.
After beating Köln and Borussia Mönchengladbach in their last two away matches, Leverkusen will have the chance to claim a third consecutive away win on Friday. They will also be looking to claim an away Bundesliga clean sheet in the league for the first time since August.
Leverkusen lost to Augsburg for the first time in the Bundesliga when the two sides met earlier this season. However, Die Werkself are still yet to lose a topflight away game against Friday's opponents, after winning seven and drawing four of their 11 away meetings with Augsburg in the Bundesliga.
Patrik Schick has not played for Leverkusen since November's Champions League meeting with Club Brugge, but he is close to returning from a spell on the sidelines. Alonso has revealed that a late decision will be made on Schick's availability for Friday's game.
Meanwhile, the visitors are unable to call upon the services of Andrey Lunev and Charles Aranguiz due to back and calf injuries respectively.