Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich preview: Xabi Alonso faces his former side
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
After spending three years with Bayern Munich as a player, Bayer Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso will go up against his former club when the two sides meet on Sunday.
|Photo: Bayer 04 Leverkusen|
Leverkusen secured their passage to the Europa League quarter-finals in midweek. After claiming a 2-0 victory over Ferencváros in the first leg, die Werkself repeated the feat when they made the trip to Hungary on Thursday. Moussa Diaby and Amine Adli both found the net to wrap up a 4-0 aggregate win to set up a last-eight meeting with Union Berlin's conquerors Union Saint-Gilloise.
Having avoided defeat in their last five competitive matches, Xabi Alonso's side will certainly head into Sunday's contest in a positive mood.
With six points separating them from sixth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt, Leverkusen are still in the hunt for the Europan places. If the hosts are to pick up any points on Sunday then they will need to start better than they did in the reverse fixture which finished in a 4-0 defeat. Bayern scored twice in the opening 17 minutes before they added a third before half time.
Having failed to keep a clean sheet in their last seven league games, Leverkusen may have their work cut out on Sunday.
Andrey Lunev, Charles Aranguiz and Nadiem Amiri are all expected to miss out, while there are doubts over the availability of Karim Bellarabi and Patrik Schick due to illness and injury respectively.
Bayern managed to claim a fourth consecutive victory in all competitions when they faced Augsburg last weekend. A Benjamin Pavard brace, as well as goals from João Cancelo, Leroy Sané and Alphonso Davies, secured the champions a 5-3 home victory.
The win ensured Bayern finished Matchday 24 two points clear of Borussia Dortmund, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Schalke 04 in the Rivierderby. However, Dortmund returned to winning ways on Saturday evening, hammering Koln 6-1 to move to the top of the Bundesliga table.
As a result, Julian Nagelsmann's side will need to beat Leverkusen if they are to go into the international break as league leaders.
Impressively, Bayern have won all five of their Bundesliga games which have taken place on a Sunday this season. They will also take confidence from the fact that they have won their last three top-flight away games against Leverkusen.
Nagelsmann has confirmed that Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting will miss out for the second game in a row due to a back problem. Long-term absentees Lucas Hernandez and Manuel Neuer remain sidelined.