Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim – Saturday, November 2, 14:30GMT/15:30CET – BayArena, Leverkusen, Germany
Leverkusen are back on track. Die Werkself followed up a 6-2 thrashing of Werder Bremen on matchday 9 with a 5-0 victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Wednesday in the DFB Pokal.
It was another significant step out of Bayer Leverkusen’s crisis and has given head coach Heiko Herrlich some significant breathing room. Herrlich’s decision to move from 4-2-3-1 to 3-4-3 and to play counter football rather than possession based football was the key for Bayer’s recent successes against Bremen and Gladbach.
The new tactical orientation accentuates Bayer’s strengths. Fast players like Karim Bellarabi, Julian Brandt and Kevin Volland are given more room to break forward when Bayer win the ball. Defensively the switch has also helped as Wendell, and Mitchell Weiser turn Leverkusen’s defence into a five-man stronghold when the opponent has the ball.
Bayer have now collected 1.22 points per game this season, which would bring them to 42 points at the end of the season. That would be just enough to avoid relegation – not enough considering that the goal was the qualification for the Champions League. Bayer, therefore, need to follow up recent results with a win against Hoffenheim.
Hoffenheim, in the meantime, have experienced ups and downs in the Bundesliga, Champions League and DFB Pokal. Last week die Kraichgauer beat Stuttgart 4-0 and the week prior beat newly promoted Nürnberg 3-1. In between, they sandwiched a 3-3 draw against Olympique Lyon in the Champions League.
Those positive results, however, were overshadowed by a 2-0 defeat to RB Leipzig in the DFB Pokal on Wednesday. It was already the second time this season that Julian Nagelsmann was outfoxed by his future boss Ralf Rangnick.
Nonetheless, there have also been good news. For the third time in a row, Hoffenheim have generated revenues of over €100 million and earned profits. The club is now mostly independent from the owner, and SAP founder, Dietmar Hopp, thanks to the club reaching European competitions in the last two seasons.
For the club to stay competitive, Hoffenheim need to return to Europe once again at the end of this season – in particular as the club also needs to attract a top coach to replace Nagelsmann. With the club out of the Cup, the match against Leverkusen is, therefore, a trendsetter. Both clubs need to win to underline European ambitions, and Leverkusen’s current form makes them the favourites to do exactly that.
Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim – Players to look out for:
Karim Bellarabi #10 – Bayer Leverkusen
Karim Bellarabi has been on fire. Ever since receiving a red card in the match against Bayern – the forward brutally fouled Rafinha – Bellarabi has been on a scoring streak. The 28-year-old has scored six goals and two assists in the last four competitive games and has become the face of Bayer Leverkusen’s re-emergence.
Reiss Nelson #9 – Hoffenheim
Reiss Nelson is the latest English goalscoring sensation in the Bundesliga. The Arsenal loanee recently revealed that his big motivation to join Hoffenheim this summer was to work together with Julian Nagelsmann. It has been a marriage that has worked wonders as the 18-year-old has already scored four goals in five Bundesliga games this season.
Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim – Match Stats
- Hoffenheim conceded their first ever Bundesliga defeat to Leverkusen on matchday 3 of the 2008/09 season (2-5).
- Only Eren Derdiyok and Kevin Volland managed to score goals for both clubs. Volland has scored 23 goals for Leverkusen and 33 goals for Hoffenheim.
- Leverkusen’s record against Hoffenheim is: W7 D1 L2.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim – 3-1
Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim – Lineups
Hradecky – Tah, S. Bender, Jedvaj – Weiser, L. Bender, Havertz, Wendell – Bellarabi, Brandt – Volland
Head Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Baumann – Adams, Vogt, Bicakcic – Kaderabek, Zuber – Grillitsch – Demirbay, Kramaric – Joelinton, Nelson
Head Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. 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 is available HERE. 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.