14:30 (BST); Saturday 21st October; Stadion im Borussia-Park (Mönchengladbach, Germany)
Borussia Mönchengladbach have won three of their last four matches as they go into Matchday 9. This week, Bayer Leverkusen are coming to town, making the short trip up the A57 to Mönchengladbach. Up to now, Leverkusen have been exceptional and are yet to drop points at home. However, away from the BayArena, Heiko Herrlich’s side has struggled, only taking one point on their travels in their match against Schalke.
Gladbach will be looking to close the gap between themselves and RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim. With a couple of favourable results, Dieter Hecking’s side could find themselves in the top four after the weekend. Leverkusen sit in 12th place, but they could climb up to 10th if they can beat Gladbach on Saturday.
Last Time Out
Werder Bremen 0-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Borussia Mönchengladbach made the journey to Bremen in search of their first away win for the season. It was the perfect start for Dieter Hecking’s men when they took the lead on 27 minutes: Thorgan Hazard’s initial shot was saved by Jiri Pavlenka, but Lars Stindl produced a moment of magic to score his 3rd of the season.
On 34 minutes, Gladbach made it two when Oscar Wendt’s corner was met by former Werder Bremen defender Jannik Vestergaard, who headed home his first of the season. The win saw Gladbach climb up the standings to 5th.
Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Wolfsburg
Bayer Leverkusen returned from the international break at home to a Wolfsburg side that has struggled this season. They opened the scoring on 29 minutes when Lars Bender scored his first for the season from close range. Wolfsburg would level the ledger just before halftime thanks to the header from Liverpool loanee Divock Origi.
After the break, Leverkusen persisted and, just after the hour mark, they retook the lead: Wendell with the delivery and Lucas Alario in the right place at the right time to deliver his second of the game. Once again, though, Wolfsburg came back: levelling the scores on the 69th minute when Jakub Blaszczykowski was played in before finishing well past Bernd Leno.
Borussia Mönchengladbach Lineup
No changes are expected from Gladbach: Ibrahima Traore made his return from injury last time out against Werder Bremen but he won’t get the start with Thorgan Hazard remaining in the starting XI on the right.
Bayer Leverkusen Lineup
No changes are expected from Heiko Herrlich’s side on Saturday. Charles Aránguiz missed out against Wolfsburg and he will return to the matchday squad against Gladbach. However, he is likely to remain on the bench with Dominik Kohr and Lars Bender retaining their places in midfield.
Key Battle: Raffael vs Jonathan Tah
Raffael is yet to hit his stride this season. He will hope to do so against Bayer Leverkusen at home. The Brazilian forward has two goals to his name which both came in a 2-0 victory over Stuttgart on Matchday five. Gladbach can’t just rely on the scoring inputs of Lars Stindl once again, though, so can Raffael get it together this weekend?
Raffael’s opposing defender will most likely be Jonathan Tah who will look to get improve Leverkusen’s poor defence. Tah has made seven appearances for Leverkusen and have only kept one clean sheet when the 21-year-old has been on the field. The Germany international needs to make an impression if he wants to keep his place in Leverkusen’s defence.
Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen will play their 37th clash at the Borussia-Park in what is always a spicy affair. In the past, though, getting a result hasn’t been easy for either side. In the prior 36 meetings in Gladbach, 18 have ended in draws. In fact, between 1989 and 1998, all clashes at the Borussia-Park ended in a draw. Gladbach have won the last three matches at home against Leverkusen. Will we see a 19th draw on Saturday?
13 is lucky for some
The number 13 may be bad luck for some but for Lars Stindl and Lucas Alario it hasn’t been an issue, both striker finding their feet early this season. Stindl, being a seasoned veteran of the Bundesliga, picked the shirt number 13 when he left Hannover at the end of the 2014/15 season, having scored 35 goals in 92 appearances in all competitions.
As for Alario, the Argentine wore the number 13 at River Plate previously and kept the number after his move to Bayer Leverkusen. Alario scored 31 goals in 72 for River Plate and, since joining Leverkusen, the 25-year-old already has 2 in 3 games. Look for the 13s being the prime targets going forward.
Prediction: Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Gladbach go into the game as favourites and rightly so: their results, with the exception of the Dortmund game, have been impressive, showcasing why Dieter Hecking was given the job less than a year ago. Leverkusen have been good at home, but only at home. They have really struggled on their travels and will have their work cut out on Saturday. It will be a good clash but it will be Gladbach who take the points on Matchday 9.
Can Borussia Mönchengladbach secure their third consecutive win or will Bayer Leverkusen win their first game on the road? Let us know in the comments section below.
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