Bundesliga Match of the Week: Borussia M’Gladbach vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (9/2/13 14:30 GMT)
Bundesliga Match of the Week: Borussia M’Gladbach vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen Preview | Match day 21 in the Bundesliga sees two of the league’s biggest teams square off in a game that sees 7th take on 3rd in what should be an entertaining game.
BMG has so far this season failed to really hit the heights of last season which saw the club finish in a mightily impressive 4th place. This secured entry into the final qualifying round of the Champions League. Whilst BMG may have fallen to Dynamo Kyiv the fact that the club was participating at that level at all was a vast improvement on the club’s 16th place finish at the end of the 2010/2011 season in which they had to rely on the heroics of Marco Reus to seal a play-off win away to Bochum in order to stave off relegation.
The Foals’ great escape that season was in large part down to the managerial skills of Lucian Favre. After being appointed in February 2011 the club has gone from strength to strength and its continued involvement in the Europa League evidences this fact.
Let’s also not forget that the close season saw the club lose the spine of its team with Marco Reus departing for Dortmund, Dante joining Bayern Munich and Roman Neustadter joining Schalke. Favre has been forced to rebuild his team this season and has done a good job of it.
It’s worth pointing out that BMG’s 4th place finish last season was better than Bayer could manage. Bayer finished the season in 5th place. Whilst Europa League football is not what that club aspires to it has been consistently amongst the top teams in Germany in recent seasons. A 2nd place finish in the 2010/2011 season and a 4th placed finish the season prior to that point to a club which has maintained a level of consistency whilst undergoing not infrequent managerial changes.
The last few games involving these clubs have been tight affairs. The corresponding fixture in September saw a 1-1 draw played out in the wonderful BayArena with early goals from Kadlec and Herrmann being enough to play out an early season draw. Looking a bit further back the October 2010 DFB Pokal match saw BMG win 6-5 and in August 2010 BMG again won by a big score line, this time 3-6 away in Leverkusen. More of the same please!
BMG is in slightly better form that Bayer coming into this game with two wins, two draws and one loss in its last five matches seeing it take 8 out of a possible 15 points. Bayer has managed two wins, one draw and two defeats in the same period achieving 7 out of a possible 15 points.
I’m not reading too much into the form guide for this one. BMG come into it on the back of an away defeat at Nuremberg which isn’t one of the leagues stronger teams. Nuremberg won the game by virtue of a dodgy penalty decision but overall were probably good value for the win.
In contrast Bayer can count itself unlucky to have come away from last weekend’s pulsating encounter with Dortmund which saw it rally from two goals down only to conceded almost immediately and lose the game by the odd goal in 5.
Ones to watch – the young pretenders.
It’s the battle of the keepers’ for me. Marc Andre Ter Stegen has been in scintillating form for the last couple of seasons. If memory serves he made his first team debut at the age of 18 and hasn’t looked back since. I think that in the next few years he will be a genuine contender to Manuel Neuer’s crown in the national team set up. The same can probably be said for Bernd Leno. When he arrived at Bayer I think he was probably seen as a stop-gap solution to Rene Adler’s injury concerns. When he got his chance he seized it with both hands, excuse the pun, so much so that Bayer stuck with him and released Adler at the end of last season.
In retrospect Stuttgart were amiss to let him go. Or were they? Query whether he would have ousted Sven Ulreich in the Stuttgart goal and Stuttgart’s decision to initially loan him to Bayer where he got an opportunity and thrived probably worked out best for both clubs.
I accept that Ter Stegen and Leno are both outstanding young goalkeepers but I remain of the view that Michael Rensing is the most underrated goalkeeper in the league and it’s a real shame that he finds himself on the bench for Bayer when he could be keeping goal for ‘A’ another club in the league. Did I mention that I am part of the Michael Rensing fan club?
Possible starting XI’s
BMG has favoured a 4, 4, 2 at home this season with Luuk De Jong and Patrick Herrmann partnering each other upfront. Lucian Favre has at times mixed it up to play a 4, 1, 4, 1 most notably away to Bayern in December which resulted in a creditable 1-1 draw and a 4, 3, 3, which worked with less effect away to Hoffenheim. I think BMG will stick to a solid 4, 4, 2 to deal with Bayer’s attacking front three of Kiessling, Schurrle and Castro.
Bayer have stuck with a 4, 3, 2, 1 this season but in last week’s home defeat to Dortmund Lewandowski played a 4, 3, 3 with Castro and Schurrle playing much wider than they have done previously this season with Rolfes and Bender playing in a tighter midfield three centred by Reinartz.
I think the teams will line something like this.
90 Minute Cynic Prediction: Borussia M’Gladbach 0-1 Bayer 04 Leverkusen