Bayer Leverkusen vs Wolfsburg: Preview and Prediction

Runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen take on VfL Wolfsburg to maintain their lead at the top and their unbeaten run.

There will be all sorts of ramifications and reputational damage for Bayer Leverkusen should they squander their ten-point advantage at the top between now and the end of the season, with VfL Wolfsburg bringing the next challenge.

With ten games to go in the season, Xabi Alonso can take baby steps towards putting one hand on the domestic title, as they will hope for that with a win over Wolfsburg at the weekend. Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich were neck and neck until a few weeks ago in the Bundesliga title race. Since Alonso’s side brushed past Thomas Tuchel’s men, Bayern have found it difficult to get wins and dropped many points to make life difficult in catching up to their rivals.

Incredibly enough, Bayer Leverkusen have stayed unbeaten in all competitions this season and suffered a mini-scare in their UEFA Europa League game against Qarabag, who have been leading for a substantial period. Patrik Schick’s late equaliser spared the blushes for Alonso’s men, who will now focus his efforts on securing Leverkusen their maiden Bundesliga title.

While Die Werkself are gunning for their first-ever Bundesliga title, visitors Wolfsburg are keen on keeping their distance from the relegation zone. While there is still a healthy eight-point gap between them and 16th-placed Koln, it takes little to drag themselves close to the bottom three.

For Wolfsburg and Niko Kovac, churning out the points is a massive need of the hour, although they can take courage from their recent performances against Leverkusen away from home. They have not lost to Alonso’s men in their last seven visits to the BayArena.

However, in the Bundesliga, they are winless in their last eight games, losing twice in that run, with the latest defeats coming the previous weekend against Stuttgart. Wolfsburg are currently on 25 points, their worst-ever tally at this stage of the season, as they only have two wins in their last 18 games under Kovac.

Team News & Tactics

Bayer Leverkusen

Xabi Alonso has to deal with key absentees ahead of another crucial Bundesliga clash. Strike Victor Boniface will likely return by the end of the month from his muscle tear that saw him miss out on Nigeria’s AFCON campaign.

Defender Arthur will also likely return after the international break after a setback while recovering from a thigh problem. The big blow for Alonso is the absence of crucial star Jeremie Frimpong, who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season last weekend and will have to serve a one-game suspension.

Alonso will also bring all of Granit Xhaka, Florian Wirtz, Jonas Hofmann and Patrik Schick back to the starting lineup after benching the quartet for the midweek game. He will also use Nathan Tella in the right wing-back role left vacant by Frimpong’s absence.

Schick should start in the centre-forward role, with Hofmann and Florian Wirtz in the advanced roles behind him. In midfield, Xhaka should partner Robert Andrich, with Alejandro Grimaldo in the wide-left position, while Jonathan Tah, Piero Hincapie and Odilon Kassounou in the back three for Leverkusen.

Probable lineup (3-4-2-1): Hradecky; Hincapie, Tah, Kossounou; Tella, Andrich, Xhaka, Grimaldo; Hofmann, Wirtz; Schick

VfL Wolfsburg

Wolfsburg are not missing many players ahead of the trip to Bayer Leverkusen, with Joakim Maehle suspended after picking up his fifth booking of the season. Consequently, he must serve a mandatory one-game suspension, while Rogerio has a thigh problem that might keep him out of action for the weekend.

The visitors are boosted by the return of Mattias Svanberg, although there are doubts about whether the midfielder will start on Sunday. Maximilian Arnold and Yannick Gerhardt will likely start in central midfield for Kovac’s side.

Jonas Wind and Tiago Tomas are the preferred options in the wide areas. The manager will prefer his variation of the 4-4-2, with Lovro Majer operating slightly behind central striker Kevin Behrens.

Ridle Baku will operate in the right-back role, while Kevin Paredes takes the left-back slot. Moritz Jenz and Maxence Lacroix will keep their central defensive partnership alive, with Koen Casteels in between the sticks for Wolfsburg.

Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Casteels; Baku, Jenz, Lacroix, Paredes; Wind, Arnold, Gerhardt, Tomas; Majer; Behrens

Key Stats

  • Bayer Leverkusen are undefeated in their last 24 matches in the Bundesliga.
  • Bayer Leverkusen have scored at least two goals in their last five matches in the Bundesliga.
  • Bayer Leverkusen are enjoying a club record season with 64 points, while Wolfsburg have collected only 25, their worst ever tally to this point.
  • Wolfsburg have only two wins in their last 18 Bundesliga games this season.
  • Wolfsburg have failed to win their last nine matches in the Bundesliga

Player to Watch

Nathan Tella

Embed from Getty Images

The transformation of Nathan Tella has been one of the stories at Bayer Leverkusen under Alonso this season. Once regarded as a player with less qualities, the right winger has adapted to the Spaniard’s requirements and performed consistently despite playing a secondary role for the team.

At the weekend, with Jeremie Frimpong suspended, Tella has a big chance to impress the manager with a stellar performance from the right wing-back position. He hopes to improve on his four goals this season, as Xabi Alonso expects to see the best in him on Sunday.


Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 VfL Wolfsburg

Scoring goals has not been a problem for Wolfsburg, but winning games has been one. Niko Kovac has not had a good season, with his men failing to win 16 of their last 18 games in the Bundesliga, a run which might continue on Sunday as they take on champions-elect Bayer Leverkusen.

Xabi Alonso might rally his players to achieve something special this season as they have a terrific chance to go unbeaten in all competitions. He might at least want that status in the league, as Leverkusen will look for another vital victory to put one hand on the Bundesliga title. Here, the home side are the clear favourites to take three points, which will add pressure on Kovac and Wolfsburg.

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