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By Ben Sully@SullyBen

Bayer Leverkusen vs. FC Köln preview: Who will prevail in the Rhine derby?

Bayer Leverkusen and FC Köln will look to claim derby bragging rights when they face off at the BayArena on Friday.

Bayer Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen played out a goalless draw against Union Berlin last weekend to extend their unbeaten run to 14 competitive games. With four games left to play, Die Werkself are currently sitting in sixth position, but there is still work to do if they are to secure European qualification via the league, with Wolfsburg and Mainz in hot pursuit.

Die Werkself will travel to the Italian capital next week to face Roma in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final, but before they can focus on that crucial encounter, they must negotiate a tricky home game against Köln.

Home advantage could prove to be a deciding factor due to Leverkusen’s impressive form at the BayArena, where they are unbeaten in six games across all competitions (W5, D1). With four of those wins taking place in the Bundesliga, Leverkusen have the chance to claim a fifth consecutive home league win on Friday.
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Patrik Schick has been sidelined since March due to an injury issue, and he has now revealed that he will miss the remainder of the campaign. Leverkusen are also unable to call upon Andrey Lunev and Charles Aranguiz for the derby fixture.

FC Köln

After going four games without defeat (W2, D2), Köln’s encouraging run of form was brought to an end by Freiburg on Saturday. A second-half effort from Ritsu Doan proved to be the decisive goal, condemning Steffen Baumgart’s side to a 1-0 defeat, which leaves them in 11th position.

The result extended Köln’s winless home run to five matches, but they have fared well in their recent away trips. After recording consecutive 3-1 away victories over Augsburg and Hoffenheim, die Geißböcke now have the chance to claim three successive away wins in the Bundesliga for the first time in 31 years.

Although they were beaten 2-1 by Leverkusen when the two sides met in November, Köln managed to pick up a 1-0 win in their most recent away meeting with die Werkself.

The Rhine derby was moved forward a couple of days to give Leverkusen more time to prepare for their Europa League semi-final first leg, but the decision may have frustrated Köln, who have lost their last six Bundesliga fixtures that have taken place on a Friday.
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Mark Uth and Florian Dietz will miss out through injury, while Eric Martel will serve a one-match suspension for an accumulation of yellow cards.

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