Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen – Saturday, August 25, 17:30 BST/18:30 CEST – Borussia Park, Mönchengladbach, Germany
Borussia Mönchengladbach host Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday in the Bundesliga top match. Gladbach, in particular, hope to improve this season after finishing ninth in the last two seasons.
The return to European football is the primary goal of die Fohlen this season. To get there, Dieter Hecking is planning to switch around the club’s tactics away from 4-4-2 towards a more attacking minded 4-3-3 setup.
For the tactical switch to work, Gladbach invested €24 million in new striker Alassane Pléa this summer. It was a switch that worked already very well in Gladbach’s 11-1 victory in the DFB Pokal over fifth division Bremen-Liga side BSC Hastedt.
Given the gulf of quality between Gladbach and Hastedt, that result may need to be taken with a grain of salt. At the same time, the new tactical approach was visible, and Gladbach’s squad already showed excellent chemistry.
“We already play well together”, Thorgan Hazard told the media following the DFB Pokal win against Hastedt. Gladbach want to be more dangerous and attractive this season as well as successful.
To do that three points are on the agenda against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday night in the Topspiel. Bayer, however, also have ambitions this season.
Die Werkself were able to mostly keep together their young and talented squad this summer. Julian Brandt and Leon Bailey even renewed their commitments to Bayer ahead of this season.
Keeping together the core of the squad and adding the likes of Brazilian wunderkind Paulinho makes Leverkusen one of the most dangerous teams this season. Perhaps the biggest question going into matchday 1 will be in defensive midfield.
Charles Aranguiz, Lars Bender and Julian Baumgartlinger all have struggled with injuries this week. While Lars Bender should be able to play both Aranguiz and Baumgartlinger will be out.
“Someone like Baumgartlinger is always hard to replace as he is an essential player when he is top form”, head coach Heiko Herrlich explained on Thursday. In his stead, Dominik Kohr is expected to start this weekend, but medium-term Bayer are looking to bring in another player.
That player will likely be financed through the sale of Benjamin Henrichs, who is expected to join AS Monaco for around €20 million. Those funds should be enough for Bayer to sign one, or maybe even two players.
Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen – Players to look out for:
Alassane Pléa #14 – Borussia Mönchengladbach
Borussia Mönchengladbach’s record signing Alassane Pléa is the latest true number nine trying to establish himself at die Fohlen. Gladbach is in many ways a centre-forward graveyard. The likes of Luuk de Jong and Josip Drmić have failed to make the position up front their own. Now 24-year-old Pléa will attempt to fill the void up front. Signed from Nice this summer the striker already scored three times last weekend against Hastedt and will be expected to lead the charge for Gladbach this season.
Julian Brandt #10 – Bayer Leverkusen
Many expected that Julian Brandt would leave Leverkusen following the conclusion of the 2017/18 season. But instead, Brandt renewed his contract and is now expected to play a key role for Bayer this year. The attacking midfielder scored nine goals and five assists in 34 Bundesliga games last season and was one of the few German national team players that did not disappoint at the World Cup.
Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen – Match Stats
- Bayer Leverkusen completed the most sprints last season (233) and Gladbach the least (185).
- Leverkusen won both games against Gladbach last season (2-0 and 1-0).
- Gladbach’s record at home against Bayer is W11 D18 L7.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen – 1-2
Gladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen – Lineups
Sommer – Beyer, Ginter, Jantschke, Wendt – Hofmann, Strobl, Neuhaus – Raffael, Plea, Hazard
Head Coach: Dieter Hecking
Özcan – Weiser, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – L. Bender, Kohr – Bailey, Havertz, Brandt – Volland
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 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.