In-form Bayer Leverkusen will attempt to make the Bundesliga title chase interesting again by defeating leaders Bayern Munich, with red-hot Javier Hernandez hoping to extend his amazing goalscoring run. And seeing that the Bavarians have failed to impress in the new year, we could be in for an interesting clash at Bay Arena.
Even if they have failed to mount a serious title challenge in the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen have been quite consistent over the last five or six years, finishing in the top 4 three times in a row. It was never going to be easy to keep up with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, but die Werkself have done really well in clashes with the German giants, winning three of last nine matches against the Bavarians (D2 L4). The Bay Arena outfit were not expected to enjoy such a successful season this term, but one shrewd piece of business made all the difference as summer recruit Javier Hernandez quickly set the Bundesliga on fire. The Mexican bagged 13 goals in 16 league appearances to help Leverkusen climb to fourth in the standings, but with the likes of Schalke, Gladbach and Wolfsburg breathing down their necks in the race for Champions League berths, die Werkself will have to continue the promising run of results. Buoyed by the 3-0 triumph over Hannover and Bayern’s huge defensive problems, the hosts will be looking to adopt a positive approach and record the second straight triumph over the Bavarians at Bay Arena.
There will be no changes to the starting line-up, with Charles Aranguiz, Lars Bender and Robbie Kruse all sidelined through injury.
With Pep Guardiola leaving at the end of the season and set to be replaced by Carlo Ancelotti, this can be considered an end of an era for Bayern Munich, although we are positive that the club chiefs have made the right decision when choosing the perfect replacement for the Catalan coach. There are no doubts that Guardiola will want to say goodbye to the club by winning few more major trophies and Bundesliga title appears to be in the bag already. Nevertheless, the Bavarians are unlikely to become complacent in spite of the eight-point cushion at the league summit, especially since the latest injury crisis has taken the wind out of their sails. With no fewer than three central defenders sidelined through injury, Bayern had no choice but to recruit another centre-back, with Serdar Tasci joining from Spartak Moscow, but now he is unavailable as well, meaning their back line will be severely weakened against red-hot Bayer Leverkusen.
With Mehdi Benatia, Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and Serdar Tasci all unavailable, Holger Badstuber and Joshua Kimmich will form the centre-back pairing.
Thiago Alcantara should be recalled, with Kingsley Coman dropping out, but Franck Ribery and Mario Gotze remain in the infirmary.
Key Factors to Consider
- Bayern Munich won just once on last five visits to Bay Arena (D2 L2)
- The Bavarians, however, have six wins in last eleven meetings with Leverkusen
- A total of 20 goals were scored in Leverkusen’s last five league games at Bay Arena
- Bayern Munich conceded five goals in last three away fixtures in Bundesliga
- Javier Hernandez scored 12 goals in last 10 league outings
Bayer Leverkusen have been in fine form of late and red-hot Javier Hernandez is likely to prove a handful for Bayern’s makeshift defence. Everything suggests we are going to see some end to end stuff at Bay Arena and we wouldn’t be surprised if the Bavarians fail to win this game.
Verdict: Both teams to score
Best Odds: 3/4
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