Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen – Wednesday, December 21, 17:30GMT/18:30CET – Borussia Park, Mönchengladbach, Germany.
With Mönchengladbach and Leverkusen located just outside of Köln, the game on Wednesday night could easily be labelled das kleine rheinische Derby (the small Rhinederby). Traditionally, Köln against Gladbach constitutes the big rivalry in the region, but with Leverkusen located just 30 minutes by train north of Cologne and, despite not winning any national championships, perhaps the most successful club in the region in the last twenty years has someone surpassed 1.FC Köln at least on the field.
At the same time, Bayer Leverkusen somewhat lacks the folklore of the two traditional clubs Gladbach and Köln to truly be part of a rivalry. Hence, while the game will lack some of the emotions that come with the big clashes between Gladbach against Köln the game will still have plenty of storylines.
Both teams come off the back of a somewhat disappointing Bundesliga season in which neither side qualified for European football. Both clubs then used the summer to make some small adjustments, and Bayer Leverkusen are currently ranked fourth in the Bundesliga standings with Gladbach closely following them in sixth place.
The game on Wednesday will, therefore, see two teams going against each other that have returned as major Bundesliga challengers. Gladbach under Dieter Hecking have returned to the sort of defensive stability that made the team a success under Lucien Favre, and with 28 points the Borussia have to certainly be counted among the teams that could return to European football next season.
Bayer Leverkusen in the meantime were by some labelled as a potential surprise team that could once again challenge for the Champions League spots. Keeping together the core of the team and adding the likes of Sven Bender and Lucas Alario have meant that Bayer have one of the most exciting sides in the league. Furthermore, the lack of international football and the pragmatic approach by new head coach Heiko Herrlich has meant that the side has the advantage of longer breaks, which adds to the club’s strength in domestic competitions.
With both teams playing a refreshing brand of attacking football the game on Wednesday should be an exciting affair. Evenly matched do not be surprised if the game goes all the way into penalties.
Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen – Players to look out for:
Raffael #11 – Borussia Mönchengladbach
For a long time, this season Borussia Mönchengladbach’s magician seemed to have lost his magic. The 32-year-old Brazilian struggled to find his form at the beginning of the season, and some even asked whether Raffael was still up to Bundesliga standards. The Brazilian, however, has been a slow starter for the last few years and Raffael demonstrated against Hamburger SV that he is still a marquee player in this league by scoring two magnificent goals that led his club to a 3-1 victory.
Kevin Volland #31 – Bayer Leverkusen
With nine goals in 16 games, Kevin Volland is the top scorer among all German national in the Bundesliga. His nine goals already mean an improvement from his six goals scored in 23 games for Bayer Leverkusen last season. Ranked ahead of the likes of Timo Werner and Sandro Wagner Volland now has a realistic chance of jumping on the World Cup train should he continue his scoring rate. A fast and compact forward Volland inherited his physical strength on the ball from his father Andreas Volland, who was German national team ice hockey player.
Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen – Match Stats
- This is the seventh time the two teams meet in the DFB Pokal.
- Gladbach’s record against Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB Pokal is W4 L2 (W3 D2 L2 after regular time).
- The two sides last met in the second round of the DFB Pokal during the 2010-11 season with Borussia Mönchengladbach advancing after penalties.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 (Gladbach to advance after penalties)
Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen – Lineups
Sommer – Oxford, Ginter, Vestergaard, Wendt – Zakaria, Cuisance – Herrmann, Hazard – Stindl, Raffael
Head Coach: Dieter Hecking
Leno – Henrichs, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Baumgartlinger – L. Bender, Havertz – Bailey, Volland, Brandt
Head Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.