Leverkusen travel to the RheinEnergieStadion for a midweek derby match, where they will be hoping for a second straight win following their shocking demolition of Union Berlin.
|Photo: Bayer 04 Leverkusen|
It was a difficult last week for Köln, as they narrowly dropped out of Europe and looked indecisive in their loss to Freiburg over the weekend. Injuries are starting to pile up and one has to imagine that Steffen Baumgart is trying to get to this World Cup break as soon as possible.
Steffen Tigges is the only available striker for the 12th-place side, who will heavily rely on the creativity of Florian Kainz. A point would feel like a victory considering that so many important players are out.
Luckily, 11 of their 17 points have come from home in this campaign.
Baumgart said, “We’ll press high and play forward. That’s how we play football and I want to keep it that way. We’re playing against a strong team, but we are focusing on ourselves. Our problem is currently the missing continuity and injured players we can’t replace.”
Their lengthy injury list includes Sebastian Andersson, Dejan Ljubicic, Jonas Hector, Tim Lemperle, Mark Uth, Florian Dietz and Dimitrios Limnios.
With Timo Hübers also out, Baumgart said Jeff Chabot or Nikola Soldo will start alongside Luca Kilian in defense.
It’s difficult to understand what’s really going on with this Leverkusen team. It’s been a horrific start to the season for such a talented squad, but all of a sudden, they destroyed former league leaders Union Berlin 5-0 over the weekend.
But, the question remains. Can they keep this up? Leverkusen are beginning to get healthier with several key midfielders returning or nearing a return to full fitness.
Bayer have tallied just one away win in league play thus far and need to start consistently picking up points to distance themselves from the relegation zone. Xabi Alonso will again emphasize play from Moussa Diaby and Jeremie Frimpoing down the right, who are boom-or-bust fantasy plays.
Alonso commented, “Winning against Union is of no use if we don’t confirm our performance tomorrow. In the second half, we were well organized defensively. We have to build on that, as it will also result in a better attack.”
Florian Wirtz and Sardar Azmoun are out, while Charles Aranguiz and Patrik Schick are questionable.