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Bayer Leverkusen vs. FC Köln preview: Derby bragging rights at stake

By Ben Sully   @SullyBen

Bayer Leverkusen will look to continue their impressive start of the season when they face FC Köln in Sunday's Rhine Derby.
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Photo: Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen

Leverkusen will be looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign, having won seven and drawn one of their eight competitive matches. After claiming four straight victories in all competitions, die Werkself came from behind on two occasions to draw 2-2 with Bayern Munich last month. Since that result, Xabi Alonso’s side have put together another four-game winning run. After cruising to a Europa League victory over Hacken, die Werkself claimed league wins against Heidenheim and Mainz 05, before they edged out Molde in Thursday’s European clash.

Die Werkself will now turn attention back to league action, and they will be looking to move back to the top of the table after dropping down to third place following Saturday’s round of fixtures. They will be guaranteed to head into the international break as the league leaders if they can claim maximum points against Köln. They will certainly be confident of doing just that, with Leverkusen one of three teams yet to drop points on home turf this season.
Team News

The hosts are unable to call upon the services of Arthur, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Patrik Schick.

FC Köln

In contrast to their rivals, Köln have experienced a poor start to the campaign, having failed to win any of their seven league matches. After beginning the Bundesliga season with consecutive defeats, Köln managed to put a point on the board with a 1-1 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt. However, die Geißböcke have been unable to add to their tally since that contest, with their last three matches all ending in defeat.

Having registered just four goals in the Bundesliga this season, Köln are the joint-lowest scorers alongside Eintracht Frankfurt, highlighting a key area for improvement. While they may find it tough to break down a Leverkusen side that boasts the second-best defensive record, they may be able to draw inspiration from their last two trips to the BayArena. Steffen Baumgart’s side claimed a narrow 1-0 away win over die Werkself in March 2022, before they recorded a 2-1 win when the two sides met at the BayArena in May.
Team News

The visitors are expected to be without Mark Uth, Linton Maina, Luca Waldschmidt, Benno Schmitz, Eric Martel and Jan Thielmann.

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