14:30 BST, Saturday 28th October, BayArena (Leverkusen, Germany)
Bayer Leverkusen are starting to play some interesting football under Heiko Herrlich as they continue their march up the table. When they host Köln on Matchday 10, they will look to maintain this upward trend.
Köln have had a disastrous start to their season, currently sitting rock bottom and still in search of their first win in the league. They drew with Werder Bremen in their last Bundesliga outing. By contrast, Bayer Leverkusen were on fire last Saturday, scoring 5 second-half goals to smash Rhine rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Köln will remain bottom even with a win whilst Leverkusen can move into 7th if they secure another victory.
Last Time Out
Bayer Leverkusen 4-1 Union Berlin (DFB Pokal)
Bayer Leverkusen faced a tough test in the 2nd round of the DFB Pokal when they hosted Bundesliga 2 side Union Berlin. It would be the hosts who would take the lead thanks to an excellent weaving run by Julian Brandt who eventually scored past Daniel Mesenhöler. But just after the break it Union levelled the score: Dennis Daube’s shot sneaking past Bernd Leno in the Leverkusen goal.
Leverkusen wouldn’t lie down, though, pushing to retake the lead. In the 58th minute they did: the ball pin-balling in the area before Lucas Alario picked his spot to score his third Leverkusen goal. Der Werkself made it three when Admir Mehmedi was fouled by Christopher Trimmel, Wendell converting from the spot. Charles Aranguiz made it four in stoppage time with a sumptuous free-kick to send Leverkusen through to the Round of 16.
Hertha Berlin 1-3 Köln (DFB Pokal)
This week Köln made the journey to the capital for their 2nd round DFB Pokal clash with Hertha Berlin. The Billy Goats made a great start and took the lead on 35 minutes when Simon Zoller beat Rune Jarstein at his near post. Köln made it two to the good just before halftime when Milos Jojic’s cross was tapped home Dominic Maroh.
Peter Stöger’s men were rampant and on 65 minutes they were all but home when Simon Zoller’s chip bounced off the woodwork with Christian Clemens there to score off the rebound. Hertha pulled a goal back through Niklas Stark but it was a joyous occasion for a Köln side that’s had little to celebrate.
Bayer Leverkusen Lineup
Heiko Herrlich rung in the changes for Leverkusen in the Pokal this week, which leaves him with a well-rested squad to pick from. Leon Bailey who has been excellent for Leverkusen saw no action but will likely return on Saturday with Karim Bellarabi dropping to the bench. Kevin Volland picked up a knock in Leverkusen’s Bundesliga win over Borussia Mönchenglabach and will miss the clash against Köln Kai Havertz returning. Lars Bender will partner Charles Aranguiz in midfield.
Peter Stöger would have every reason to name an unchanged line-up after his sides excellent display in the capital on Wednesday night. However, key players returning to the starting XI will aid Köln against Leverkusen. Yuya Osako and Konstantin Rausch will return with Sehrou Guirassy and Jannes Horn dropping to the bench. Frederik Sørensen will operate at right back whilst the impressive 19-year-old Tim Handwerker will start against his former employers.
Key Battle: Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen) vs Milos Jojic (Köln)
Lars Bender has plenty of experience in Leverkusen’s derby with Köln and that will come in handy on Saturday. The Leverkusen captain has made 10 appearances against Köln for 4 wins, 4 draws and 2 defeats with the ex Germany international finding the back of the net twice. So far this season Bender has made five appearances for Der Werkself with his club only losing once when he has been on the park.
Milos Jojic has been shouldering more responsibility in midfield and, in their cup win over Hertha Berlin, it looked as if the Serbian relished the opportunity to pull the strings. The 25-year-old has struggled so far this season but Köln will look to the midfielder to control the contest in Leverkusen. Can Jojic repeat his cup performance in midweek to help Köln secure a win on Saturday?
Köln fans have had little to celebrate this season but their win in Hertha Berlin could be the result that will turn their season around. Winless in the league, bottom of the standings and with 24 matches remaining Köln have a great opportunity in Leverkusen to kick-start their campaign. The key for Köln will to play with an edge and embrace the situation as they look to overcome their current predicament.
Who can handle the derby pressure?
Derby football provides something different and, with these sides just 21 minutes drive away from one another, bragging rights are up for grabs. Given the fact Leverkusen destroyed Gladbach last time out in the league, Köln will be thinking back to their loss to Gladbach earlier in the season. A Leverkusen win gives them overall bragging rights in the Rhine district. Who will rise to the occasion of the derby and who will crumble?
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Köln
Both teams enter the clash on the back of a cup triumph and should be a must-watch encounter in the Bundesliga. Köln are under a lot of pressure to secure a win in the Bundesliga as getting off the mark will help rebuild their campaign whilst Leverkusen can join the European conversation. Leverkusen have been tough to beat at home and that will be the case again as Heiko Herrlich’s sides look likely to secure the points at the BayArena.
Can Bayer Leverkusen continue their previous Bundesliga performance or will Köln finally win in the league? Let us know in the comments section below
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