After conceding a late goal to lose 3-2 to Monaco in the Europa League on Thursday, Bayer Leverkusen will be looking for a response when they face Mainz 05 on Sunday.
|Photo: Bayer 04 Leverkusen|
Leverkusen will have to pick themselves up after conceding a stoppage-time goal in the midweek defeat to Monaco. The Ligue 1 side took the lead in the first leg of the Europa League playoff tie in bizarre circumstances. Pressure from Breel Embolo caused Hrádecký to knock the ball into his own goal, and despite Leverkusen's appeal for a foul, the opener stood.
Moussa Diaby and Florian Wirtz both found the net to turn the game in Leverkusen's favour, but the first leg appeared to be heading towards a draw when Krepin Diatta restored parity in the 74th minute. However, there was to be one more goal as Axel Disasi scored a 92nd-minute winner to condemn Leverkusen to a 3-2 defeat.
Although Xabi Alonso's side will have one eye on Thursday's second leg in the principality, they have to negotiate a tricky league meeting with Mainz.
Prior to losing 2-0 to Borussia Dortmund in their most recent league match at the BayArena, Leverkusen enjoyed a six-game unbeaten home run in the Bundesliga, and they will be hoping to kickstart a similar run of results on Sunday.
Diaby will be absent after picking up an injury against Monaco, while Leverkusen will also be unable to call upon Andrey Lunev and Charles Aranguiz.
Mainz are only one point adrift of their opponents, but they currently sit in the bottom half of the table in 12th place. However, the visitors will head to the Bay Arena in a confident mood after claiming a 3-1 home win over Augsburg last weekend thanks to a brace from Lee Jae-sung and a Karim Onisiwo strike.
While Bo Svensson's side have won their last two home league games, they have failed to win any of their previous four away matches in the Bundesliga.
If they are to move above their opponents in the league table, Mainz will have to improve upon their recent head-to-head record with Leverkusen. They have failed to score in seven of their previous 10 meetings, winning just one game in that period.
Having scored only one goal in the opening 30 minutes of their 10 away league matches this season, Mainz will be targeting a positive start on Sunday.
Svensson has indicated that Robin Zentner, Silvan Widmer, and Dominik Kohr could return from their respective injury issues to play some part in Sunday's contest.
Jonathan Burkardt, meanwhile, remains sidelined with a knee injury.