Prediction: Correct Score – 0-2
Bayer Leverkusen will be continuing their push for UEFA Champions League football as they travel to Gelsenkirchen to take on struggling Schalke on Sunday.
Peter Bosz’s troops have found their form inconsistent since the return of the Bundesliga and they now have a great chance to get back to winning ways against Schalke, who are yet to earn a victory following the resumption.
It really has not been a positive period for David Wagner and his troops at the VELTINS-Arena. Following their 1-1 draw with relegation candidates Union Berlin last weekend, the team have now gone 11 matches in all competitions without a victory, whilst they have also not notched a win in Bundesliga action since a 2-0 success against Borussia Monchengladbach back in mid-January. That all means that Schalke are in the midst of their worst run of form in the top-flight of German football for 27 years. Whilst Wagner’s men should have more than enough points to be clear of the relegation picture come the end of the campaign, the fact that they are only ten above 16th-placed Dusselfdorf means that they will be tentatively looking over their shoulder until it is mathematically impossible for them to drop into the 2. Bundesliga. One aspect that has contributed towards that downfall is their lack of goals. Their highest scorer in the league is Suat Serdar with just seven strikes.
Alongside their troublesome form, Schalke also have considerable problems in relation to injuries. The aforementioned Serdar is out with a knee injury until at least September and joins fellow midfielders Benjamin Stambouli and Amine Harit on the sidelines. Meanwhile, Guido Burgstaller is also restricted to the treatment table with a serious knee injury. Omar Mascarell is also out but Weston McKennie is eligible to return from suspension.
Currently sitting fifth in the Bundesliga table, Leverkusen are only behind Borussia Monchengladbach due to goal difference. It goes without saying then that they will be aiming to utilise the final four matches of the season to secure a place in Europe’s premium competition. Their form since the resumption of the league has seen them notch three wins against Werder Bremen, Gladbach and Freiburg, whilst the team also managed to reach the DFB-Pokal by defeating minnows FC Saarbrucken in midweek. Meanhwhile, Bosz’s men have also taken a few heavy defeats having lost 4-1 to Wolfsburg and 4-2 to champions in waiting Bayern Munich. Something that will give them confidence as they take on Schalke is their recent away form. In all competitions, they are eight matches undefeated on the road and have only lost four away matches in the Bundesliga all season so far.
Inspirational midfielder Kai Havertz missed out in the last league game with a muscle injury. It remains to be seen whether he will be fit for the trip to Schalke but the team will hope he his considering that they have only won one league game in which the youngster has not played this season. However, Lars Bender is definitely out for the match, whilst Jonathan Tah is also doubtful.
Key Facts To Consider
- Schalke have only won two out of the last ten matches against Bayer Leverkusen
- Weston McKennie has scored two out of Schalke’s last three goals since March
- There has not been more than three goals scored in any out of the last five matches between the two teams
- Kai Havertz has scored nine out of his 11 goals this season since the turn of the year
- Since Bayer Leverkusen’s 2-1 win against Schalke in December, the Royal Blues have dropped five places behind Leverkusen, having previously been two places above them
This match could well depend on if Havertz takes place. Leverkusen are a different prospect when he takes to the field and should he play, Bosz’s men should well be confident of winning considering Schalke’s horrendous form. However, even without him, Leverkusen should still have enough to win considering their away form in the Bundesliga.
Prediction: Correct Score – 0-2