Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 3/8
Thursday evening’s Europa League clash at Bravida Arena sets up a top-versus-bottom encounter in Group H, as Bayer Leverkusen visit Goteborg to face BK Hacken.
The home team has struggled to secure any points in the competition across the initial four group stage matches. Meanwhile, a win for the visiting Leverkusen side in this fixture would guarantee their spot in the knockout round.
BK Hacken enter this game after concluding their 2023 Allsvenskan campaign, providing them with ample rest since their last competitive match against Brommapojkarna before the international break. Their previous fixture resulted in a 2-1 loss on the road, marking a challenging finish to their domestic season where they secured third place, trailing behind Malmo and Elfsborg by seven points.
Unfortunately, this loss added to Hacken’s recent struggles, reflecting their four defeats in the last five matches across various competitions, including two losses to Molde, where they conceded eight goals and scored only two.
Under Per-Mathias Hogmo’s leadership, the team aims to break their four-game winless streak in this competition, although they face a tough challenge, having suffered a 4-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in their previous encounter back in September. In any case, their chances of anything but a last-place finish in the group are practically non-existent.
Hacken are facing an injury crisis heading into this match, with a considerable number of absentees potentially totaling seven players for the upcoming game.
Amor Layouni (muscle), Tomas Totland (muscle), and Aiham Ousou (head) have been ruled out until the following season. Simon Gustafson, who has been absent for 11 matches, is back in training but might only make it to the bench due to his extended absence.
Jacob Barrett Laursen (groin), Valgeir Fridriksson (foot), and Filip Trpcevski have barely featured this season due to their respective recovery phases and won’t be available for the upcoming match.
Bayer Leverkusen regained their position at the top of the Bundesliga after an impressive 3-0 victory against Werder Bremen at Weser Stadium following the recent international break.
This victory helped the black-and-reds equal the Bundesliga’s historical best start, matching the record set by Bayern Munich during the 2015/16 season, with 11 wins and a draw.
Xabi Alonso has achieved a remarkable feat as the first Leverkusen head coach to secure eight consecutive Bundesliga victories, and his future is being speculated on heavily these days with some reports suggesting he might soon replace Carlo Ancelotti at his former club Real Madrid. Additionally, Alex Grimaldo has made history by being the sole player since detailed data collection (2004/05) to contribute to a goal in each of his initial six away games in the German top flight.
Moreover, Leverkusen have set a new Bundesliga record as the first club to score a minimum of two goals in each of their first 12 league matches.
The visiting team enters this fixture on the back of an impressive seven-game winning streak. Their last away defeat occurred on the final day of the previous season when they were defeated 3-0 by Bochum.
Leverkusen will be without several key players for this match as well, though their problems aren’t quite as extensive as those of Hacken. Arthur (muscle), Timothy Fosu-Mensah (not match-fit), and Patrik Schick (calf) are all sidelined due to injuries.
Grimaldo has been in impressive form, scoring in his team’s last three consecutive matches. He’s likely to retain his spot in the midfield. Meanwhile, Victor Boniface, who has scored seven goals this season, will be eager to find the back of the net again after going five games without a goal.
With nothing to lose, Hacken surely won’t hold anything back in front of their supporters, but the Bundesliga leaders are still likely to prove too strong for them to overcome. No team has been able to defend efficiently against Leverkusen this term, and Hacken probably won’t be able to either.
Verdict: Away win
Best odds: 3/8
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