Bayern Brilliance Too Good For Leverkusen
Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen
Third-placed Bayer Leverkusen face the considerable assignment of a trip to champions and runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena on Saturday night.
Bayern have been irresistible under Pep Guardiola from the outset this season, with only six points dropped in 13 undefeated league outings to put them seven points ahead of the chasing pack, having scored 32 times while conceding a paltry three at the other end.
They have kept ten clean sheets in their last 11 league games but had to grind out a 1-0 win away to Hertha Berlin in their last game. Their only turnaround since a German Super Cup defeat to Dortmund in August came in a remarkable game at Manchester City a fortnight ago as they were beaten for the first time in 20 games although they are still guaranteed top spot in their group.
Mario Goetze has seven league goals to date while Arjen Robben, Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller have all struck six each to prove how they can strike from a wide variety of areas.
Three wins and only one defeat in their last five league matches have kept Bayer in the Champions League spots and just three points adrift of Wolfsburg in second. They’ve suffered only two league defeats in 13 games overall while only Saturday’s opponent have rattled in more than Leverkusen’s tally of 25 league goals, with a fifth of them coming in a crushing 5-1 demolition of Cologne in their last outing. Karim Bellarbi leads the way in their goalscoring charts with seven Bundesliga goals including three in his last two.
The incredible strength in depth available to Guardiola is illustrated by their outstanding results this season despite the list of players absent through injury. Club captain Phillipp Lahm, David Alaba and Holger Badstuber are all out until the new year with long term problems while Spanish internationals Javi Martinez, Thiago Alcantara and Pepe Reina have yet to feature this season. Bastian Schweinsteiger could make his first start of the season as he nears full fitness though.
Midfielder Stefan Reinartz and Italian full-back Giulio Donati are expected to miss out for Leverkusen, while Greek defender Kyriakos Papadopoulous is also still suffering from injury.
Head to Head
Leverkusen have given a good account of themselves over the all-conquering Bayern side of recent years, winning two and drawing one of the last five encounters, including a 2-1 victory at the Allianz in October 2012.
Both teams have scored in each of the last four clashes and eight of the last ten.
It’s a measure of just how dominant Bayern are in German football at the moment that they’re 1/4 on to win against the side currently lying just two places behind them in the table, with the visitors a monster 11/1 to claim a huge upset.
It’s of little value to take the hosts to stretch their perfect home record to eight then, so it seems to be a question of whether they can do it with another clean sheet at 6/5 and with Ballon d’Or nominee Manuel Neuer between the posts that seems a likely outcome once more. The 5/6 on under 3.5 goals looks the best of the odds-on bets too as their goalscoring options are too varied to be taken on with confidence.