Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Bundesliga clash between Bayer Leverkusen and Mainz 05, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Indeed, after a run of four defeats from five matches, including a dismal defeat to fourth-tier outfit Rot-Weiss Essen in the DFP-Pokal, any win would have sufficed for Peter Bosz‘s Leverkusen against Stuttgart last weekend.
However, the manner of the victory should provide huge confidence going forward, with Kerem Demirbay striking twice from close range within the first half-an-hour to provide a two-goal cushion heading into the interval.
Edmond Tapsoba was outmuscled too easily by Sasa Kalajdzic after the break, with the Stuttgart forward delicately dinking the ball over Lukas Hradecky to give Stuttgart a lifeline, but Leon Bailey and Florian Wirtz wrapped up the three points either side of the hour mark after two excellent team moves.
Kalajdzic added to his tally to produce a nervy finish to the game, but with gaps increasingly opening in transition, Demarai Gray helped himself to a debut goal only 10 minutes after being sent on as a substitute by Bosz having signed from Leicester City on transfer deadline day.
With Mainz possessing the second worst defensive record in the division this season, Bosz will be hoping his players can produce a similar performance and result on Saturday as they look to move back into the Champions League qualification positions.
However, Mainz have looked a more competitive outfit since appointing former player Bo Svensson as their manager last month, holding Borussia Dortmund to a draw and stunning RB Leipzig prior to last weekend’s massive win against Union Berlin.
Svensson’s side were certainly helped by a surprisingly lacklustre performance from their opponents, with Nico Schlotterbeck inadvertently standing on Karim Onisiwo‘s foot in the early exchanges. Moussa Niakhate stepped up from the penalty spot to score his third goal in two matches, although the defender’s heart must have been in his mouth when the ball struck the post before crossing the line.
Schlotterbeck saw red for another clumsy tackle on Onisiwo after the break, helping Mainz comfortably hold on for a crucial win. Robert Glatzel, who joined on loan from Cardiff City on transfer deadline day, should have doubled Mainz’s lead late on, but the forward was slow to get the ball out of his feet before firing straight at Andreas Luthe.
Mainz will need to be much more ruthless against a Leverkusen side whose confidence will have been boosted by their own win last weekend, but under Svensson they appear to have every chance of recording another upset.
Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form: DLWLLW
Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions): LWLLLW
Mainz 05 Bundesliga form: LDLWLW
Leverkusen’s lengthy injury list was added to by Timothy Fosu-Mensah‘s knock sustained during the win over Stuttgart, but it is not thought to be a serious issue.
Mainz, meanwhile, will travel to Leverkusen without Robert Quaison due to a knee injury, but otherwise Svensson appears to have no suspension or injury concerns.
Glatzel will likely be utilised from the bench once again, with Onisiwo and Adam Szalai continuing in attack.
Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Dragovic, Tah, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven; Wirtz, Aranguiz, Demirbay; Bailey, Schick, Diaby
Mainz 05 possible starting lineup:
Zentner; St. Juste, Bell, Niakhate; Da Costa, Barreiro, Kohr, Mwene; Latza; Szalai, Onisiwo
We say: Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Mainz 05
With Leverkusen hitting their stride again, we can envisage a comfortable victory for Bosz’s side.
Mainz have undoubtedly improved under Svensson, but could find the hosts’ attacking fluency too hot to handle.
Top betting tip
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