Bayer Leverkusen vs Qarabag FK: Preview and Prediction

A spot in the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals will be on the line when Bayer Leverkusen and Qarabag FK clash at BayArena on Thursday.

The UEFA Europa League Round of 16 will culminate on Thursday with the second-leg clashes. One of the most evenly-poised ties has been between Bayer Leverkusen and Qarabag FK, with the match-up level after the first leg. And only one will remain when they lock horns at BayArena on Thursday night.

Bayer Leverkusen reached the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 by topping Group H. They are yet to lose a game in the 2023/24 season, running away with the Bundesliga title while reaching the DFB Pokal semi-finals. So, the German giants have the chance to win a historic treble this term.

As for Qarabag FK, they were in the same group as Bayer Leverkusen and finished eight points behind the high-flying German outfit. They reached the Round of 16 by getting past SC Braga in a pulsating knockout playoffs clash. The Azerbaijani giants are on a five-match unbeaten run and will look to reach the Europa League quarter-finals this week.

The first leg ended in a 2-2 draw, with Bayer Leverkusen coming from two goals down to hold Qarabag FK to a stalemate. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the fourth meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

Bayer Leverkusen

Xabi Alonso does not have any new injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against Qarabag FK on Thursday, the Bayer Leverkusen manager will be bereft of the services of two first-team players.

Victor Boniface is the most notable absentee, with the Nigerian international recovering from a long-term hamstring injury. Arthur is the only other player unavailable, with the 20-year-old dealing with a groin issue.

Bayer Leverkusen should line up in a 3-4-2-1 formation against Qarabag FK, with Matej Kovar taking his place in the goal. Josip Stanisic, Jonathan Tah, and Edmond Tapsoba should form the central defensive unit, with Nathan Tella and Alejandro Grimaldo likely starting as the wing-backs.

The two wide players will look to make an impact on both ends of the pitch. As for the midfield unit, Granit Xhaka should feature, with Robert Andrich being his partner in the middle of the park. Florian Wirtz will be the pivotal figure in the final third with his creative impetus, with Adam Hlozek and Patrik Schick completing the numbers in the final third.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Kovar; Stanisic, Tah, Tapsoba; Tella, Andrich, Xhaka, Grimaldo; Hlozek, Wirtz; Schick

Qarabag FK

Unlike his counterpart in the Bayer Leverkusen dugout, Gurban Gurbanov has greeted a positive update on the team news front ahead of the trip to BayArena. The Qarabag FK manager will have a full-strength squad on Thursday.

Elvin Jafarguliyev will return to the matchday squad after serving a suspension last weekend. The 23-year-old will return to the starting eleven on Thursday, joining Bahlul Mustafazada, Badavi Huseynov, and Marko Vesovic in the backline. The quartet will protect Andrey Lunyov, who will feature in the goal.

As for the midfield unit, Julio Romao should pair up with Marko Jankovic in the double pivot. The duo will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park while initiating quick transitions. Leandro Andrade and Abdellah Zoubir should be the two wide attackers, with Yassine Benzia reprising the no. 10 role. Finally, Juninho will lead the line for the away side on Thursday.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lunyov; Vesovic, Mustafazada, Huseynov, Jafarguliyev; Romao, Jankovic; Leandro Andrade, Benzia, Zoubir; Juninho

Key Stats

  • Bayer Leverkusen and Qarabag FK drew the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first-leg clash 2-2. The German giants have progressed seven of the ten previous occasions they have drawn away from home in the first leg of a two-legged knockout tie in a major European competition, although they bowed out from the most recent such tie.
  • Qarabag have lost seven of their nine UEFA competition meetings with Bundesliga clubs, including all four away games.
  • Bayer Leverkusen are unbeaten in a German-record 36 competitive fixtures thus far this season.
  • Qarabag have scored two or more goals in their last five UEFA Europa League matches. But they have also conceded at least once in all those games.
  • Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (10) and Romelu Lukaku (8) have been involved in more goals than Florian Wirtz (7, three goals and four assists) in the UEFA Europa League this term.

Player to Watch

Patrik Schick

Embed from Getty Images

Bayer Leverkusen left it late to ensure the continuation of the almighty unbeaten run, which now stands at 36 games. Patrik Schick scored the equaliser in the second half after Die Werkself fell two goals down to Qarabag FK.

That strike might earn the Czech striker a spot in the starting eleven, giving him the opportunity to stake a claim for a regular berth until Victor Boniface returns from his injury layoff. But if he does not feature from the get-go, the onus will be on Schick to stamp his authority from the bench again to make another case for his inclusion.


Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Qarabag FK

Qarabag FK might have sprung a surprise at the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium, but normal services should resume on Thursday. The Azerbaijani outfit should still find a way past Matej Kovar. However, that might only be a consolation goal, with the BayArena crowd spurring the home side to a big win.

Expect Bayer Leverkusen to blow Qarabag away on Thursday night before the visitors salvage some pride for themselves with a late strike. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 win for Xabi Alonso and his men, who will reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals.

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