League leaders Bayer Leverkusen will travel to the MHPArena for Sunday's clash with third-placed Stuttgart.
|Photo: Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Stuttgart are continuing to enjoy a memorable season under the tutelage of Sebastian Hoeness. The Stuttgart boss saw his get the better of Borussia Dortmund in midweek to seal their place in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals. Second-half strikes from Serhou Guirassy and Silas guided die Schwaben to their second victory over Dortmund in the space of a month, while it also represented a fourth consecutive win in all competitions.
With their place in the last eight secured, Stuttgart will now turn their attention back to league matters. Having picked up 30 points from their 13 Bundesliga matches, die Schwaben currently sit in third position with five points separating them from Sunday’s opponents. While they will be looking to close that gap this weekend, Stuttgart also know that a win will move them above second-placed Bayern Munich, who suffered a surprise 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Impressively, the hosts boast the second-best home record in the top flight, having won six of their seven league games at the MHPArena this season. However, they have failed to win any of their last 11 home games against Leverkusen since winning 2-1 in April 2010 (D4, L7).
Hiroki Ito, Roberto Massimo, Nikolas Nartey and Lilian Egloff are all set to miss out through injury.
Like their hosts, Leverkusen also enjoyed success in their midweek Pokal tie. Xabi Alonso’s side booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 3-1 victory over second-tier Paderborn thanks to goals from Victor Boniface, Exequiel Palacios and Patrik Schick. As a result of their cup victory, Leverkusen are still yet to lose a game this season, with their 21 competitive matches producing 19 wins and two draws.
After picking up 35 points from their 13 Bundesliga games, Leverkusen currently enjoy a two-point lead at the top of the table. After Bayern slipped up against Frankfurt, die Werkself now have the chance to extend their advantage in their final away game of 2023. Since drawing with Bayern in September, Leverkusen have won their last eight away fixtures across all competitions and kept clean sheets in each of their previous three away trips.
Leverkusen will certainly draw confidence from the fact they have won seven of their last nine competitive meetings with Stuttgart since losing 1-0 in a home game in April 2018.
The visitors will make a late decision on Florian Wirtz's availability after the attacker picked up a knock in the midweek Pokal win over Paderborn. Meanwhile, Arthur remains a long-term injury absentee.