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Apr 17, 2021 at 5.30pm UK
B. LeverkusenBayer Leverkusen
FC KolnFC Koln
Bailey (5', 76'), Diaby (51')
Tapsoba (40')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Czichos (90')

Preview: Bayer Leverkusen vs. FC Koln - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Bayer Leverkusen vs. FC Koln - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Bundesliga clash between Bayer Leverkusen and FC Koln, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Bayer Leverkusen take on FC Koln in the Bundesliga on Saturday, with the visitors desperately requiring a positive result with time running out for them to survive relegation.

The hosts, meanwhile, are looking to cement their position in the Europa League qualifying positions in the table.

Match preview

Hannes Wolf's second match in charge of Leverkusen since replacing Peter Bosz as interim manager last month ended in a bore 0-0 draw at Hoffenheim on Monday night.

Both sides played more pragmatically than they have for most of the season, with Hoffenheim still having lingering fears of being relegated.

Wolf, of course, is fully aware that he was brought into the role to help shore up an increasingly leaky defence, and has moved to a back five system perhaps as a result of that.

In fairness, Leverkusen did look the more likely winners on the night, with Charles Aranguiz and Nadiem Amiri both denied by Oliver Baumann either side of half time.

Hoffenheim did not muster a single shot on target across the 90 minutes, which will have pleased Wolf from a defensive standpoint.

However, they may need to take the game more to a Koln side who will likely sit in and scrap for their lives given their current standing in the table, with more expected offensively from a side chasing a Europa League spot, but crucially without compromising their improved ability to defend transitions.

Indeed, Koln are staring relegation in the face after suffering a 3-2 loss at home to relegation rivals Mainz 05 last time out.

Markus Gisdol's side headed into the match knowing that a win would see them leapfrog their opponents and outside of the bottom three, but fell behind to an early strike from range by Jean-Paul Boetius, with the midfielder's effort crashing off the underside of the bar and over the line for his first goal of the season.

Ondrej Duda maintained his 100% record from the penalty spot to level proceedings before half time after Philipp Mwene was adjudged to have handled the ball, with Ellyes Skhiri turning the match on its head moments after the hour mark by nodding home at the back post from Jonas Hector's devilishly outswinging free kick.

However, Boetius turned provider with an excellent ball across Koln's box for Karim Onisiwo to equalise, before Leandro Barreiro's superb first-time finish snatched a dramatic winner for the visitors in injury time.

The defeat leaves Koln three points from safety with six matches remaining, with an inferior goal difference to 15th-placed Hertha Berlin meaning that even a win at Leverkusen on Saturday would not see them escape the bottom three.

Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D

FC Koln Bundesliga form:
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • D
  • L
  • L

Team News

Leverkusen remain without Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Julian Baumgartlinger for the rest of the campaign after both suffered serious ACL injuries.

Lars Bender and Santiago Arias are expected to return at some point this month having recovered from meniscus and ankle issues respectively, but neither are likely to feature against Koln.

Patrik Schick will be hoping for a start having only come off the substitutes' bench in Wolf's two matches so far, with the interim manager potentially looking to increase his side's attacking impetus.

Koln, meanwhile, will be without the suspended Duda after the forward picked up his fifth caution of the season in the defeat to Mainz, while Kingsley Ehizibue is ruled out after sustaining a head injury last time out.

Ismail Jakobs, Elvis Rexhbecaj and Sebastian Bornauw could come into the XI, allowing Gisdol to move to a back three in order to match up with Leverkusen's new system under his counterpart Wolf.

Jan Thielmann will hope to recover from a muscle injury in time to feature from the bench.

Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Jedvaj, Bender, Tapsoba; Diaby, Aranguiz, Demirbay, Wendell; Wirtz; Schick, Alario

FC Koln possible starting lineup:
Horn; Bornauw, Mere, Czichos; Jakobs, Skhiri, Hector, Katterbach; Wolf, Rexhbecaj; Andersson

We say: Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 FC Koln

While Leverkusen are aiming to qualify for Europe, there is clearly more at stake for the visitors, who desperately need to at least avoid defeat.

We can see them doing so, but it is unlikely to be the three points they require to keep within touching distance of their relegation rivals.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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1Bayern MunichBayern30225385384771
2RB Leipzig30187553252861
3Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt301511461441756
5Borussia DortmundDortmund291541062422049
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14Arminia Bielefeld3086162346-2330
15Mainz 052877143048-1828
16Hertha Berlin2868143448-1426
17FC Koln3068162954-2526
18Schalke 04Schalke3027211876-5813
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