Sunday, June 16, 2024

Prediction: Kaiserslautern vs Bayer Leverkusen

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 24 May 2024

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Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 4/5

Bookmaker: Olympusbet

With their aspirations of a treble dashed, Bayer Leverkusen aim to conclude an otherwise impressive 2023-24 season with a domestic double as they take on Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal final on Saturday at the Olympiastadion.

Xabi Alonso’s side saw their record-breaking unbeaten streak end in Wednesday’s Europa League final loss to Atalanta BC. Meanwhile, their second-tier opponents are chasing their third DFB-Pokal title.

Kaiserslautern

Kaiserslautern, who once dominated the DFB-Pokal with victories in 1990 and 1996 and clinched their fourth Bundesliga title in the 1997/98 season, have been toiling in the 2. Bundesliga in recent years. However, they have a chance to recapture their former glory, if only for one night, in the DFB-Pokal final.

The Red Devils had to overcome just one top-flight opponent, Koln, to reach the 2023-24 final. Their most notable victory was against third-tier Saarbrucken, who had famously knocked out Bayern Munich before Kaiserslautern ended their fairy-tale run in the semi-finals.

By defeating Saarbrucken 2-0, Kaiserslautern advanced to their eighth DFB-Pokal final. However, they have been runners-up in five of their previous seven finals, most recently losing to Bayern Munich in the 2002-03 edition.

Their 2. Bundesliga campaign this season has been lackluster, finishing 13th with 39 points from 34 matches. Nonetheless, they ended the season on a high note with a 5-0 thrashing of Eintracht Braunschweig.

This emphatic victory was their third win in four matches, during which they scored at least three goals in each triumph. Despite their recent scoring spree and 12-game goal streak across all competitions, they face a formidable and wounded Bayer Leverkusen in the final.

Team News

Despite being sent off on the final day of the 2. Bundesliga season for violent conduct, Kaiserslautern defender Almamy Toure will serve his suspension exclusively in league action. This means he is available to feature in Friedhelm Funkel’s backline for the DFB-Pokal final at the Olympiastadion.

However, there are fitness concerns for top scorer Ragnar Ache, who netted 16 goals in the second tier this season, as he is currently dealing with an Achilles issue. Additionally, Jan Elvedi, twin brother of Borussia Monchengladbach’s Nico Elvedi, is also a doubt due to a calf problem.

The Red Devils will be without long-term knee injury absentees Ben Zolinski, Hendrick Zuck, and Julian Niehues. Nevertheless, if Ache fails his late fitness test, Funkel can rely on playmaker Marlon Ritter, who bagged a hat-trick in the recent five-goal rout of Eintracht Braunschweig.

Bayer Leverkusen

Unbeaten in 51 matches prior to their journey to Dublin for the Europa League final, Bayer Leverkusen finally tasted defeat for the first time in nearly a year at the Aviva Stadium. There, the remarkable Ademola Lookman achieved what hundreds before him could not, becoming the first African player to score two goals in a major UEFA final, and ultimately securing a magnificent hat-trick. Lookman’s outstanding performance led Atalanta to end their 61-year trophy drought, as La Dea dominated Leverkusen throughout the 90 minutes.

Despite being unable to withstand Atalanta’s relentless press, and falling short of ending the season with three trophies and an ‘Invincibles’ label, Leverkusen can still celebrate clinching the Bundesliga title without a single defeat. They now have the opportunity to become only the sixth side in history to achieve the German domestic double, joining the esteemed ranks of Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen, Koln, and Schalke.

Leverkusen’s journey in the DFB-Pokal this season has been nothing short of spectacular, netting an impressive 23 goals across their five matches, with at least three goals in each encounter.

Recent clashes between Leverkusen and Kaiserslautern have been infrequent due to the latter’s stint in the second tier. However, Leverkusen triumphed 2-0 after extra time in the 2014/15 DFB-Pokal last 16, a year following Kaiserslautern’s 1-0 victory in the 2013/14 quarterfinals.

Team News

Leverkusen may have left Dublin without their pride, but Alonso appears to have avoided any fresh injury concerns among his squad. A thorough check-up will be necessary due to the quick turnaround and the long journey home, but the squad remains in good health.

Florian Wirtz, who played 81 minutes in the final, is fit, leaving Leverkusen’s medical room currently empty. This situation provides Alonso with an abundance of options for squad rotation, an opportunity the Spanish coach is likely to utilize.

Victor Boniface and Patrik Schick, who both started on the bench on Wednesday, will be competing to lead the attack. Meanwhile, Robert Andrich, Nathan Tella, and Odilon Kossounou are all expected to benefit from some essential rotation across different areas of the field at the Olympiastadion.

Conclusion

Despite Leverkusen’s disappointment on the continental stage, Kaiserslautern likely anticipated this challenging scenario. Alonso’s squad, determined to rectify their recent mistakes, boasts a wealth of competent options for changes across defence, midfield, and attack.

Kaiserslautern will undoubtedly put up a strong fight, relying on their scoring prowess, but it may only carry them so far. Leverkusen should have the ability to move past their Europa League setback and secure the domestic double, affirming their status as the dominant team in Germany in 2023/24.

It should also be a game with plenty of attacking intent and goals.

Verdict: Total goals over 3.5

Best odds: 4/5

Bookmaker: Olympusbet

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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