There are four games remaining in Bundesliga and the title race is almost over. Yet, the competition on Champions League zone and Europa League spots are likely to continue till the end. The clash of two teams which still aim for those spots, Schalke and Leverkusen, marks the end of matchday 31. The Royal Blues are still stuck on the tenth while Bayer Leverkusen are sloping to the fifth of the table. The host is on a mission to end their winless run while Peter Bosz’s men are seeking for three points to bump up to the top four.
Both teams’ previous matches
Alexander Nubel and Co were still unable to end their series of negative results. Last week, they could only snatch a point while facing off Union Berlin on the road. They conceded first as Robert Andrich scored on the 11th minute. Fortunately, their lead did not last long as Jonjoe Kenny equalised by his strike from outside the penalty box seventeen minutes later.
Meanwhile, the absence of Kai Havertz did give a negative impact on Leverkusen’s form. They slumped to a 2-4 defeat against Bayern at home, despite taking a quick lead by Lucas Alario’s strike. Yet, they conceded four goals afterwards by Kingsley Coman, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnarby and Robert Lewandowski. Eventually, they could bag another one by Florian Wirtz but it was all too late.
David Wagner might still deploy 3-4-2-1. Yet, several names will be ruled out including their two top scorers Suat Serdar and Armine Harit, Omar Mascarell, Benjamin Stambouli, Guido Bugstaller plus Benito Raman. With such crisis in the squad, the former Huddersfield boss will possibly push Ahmed Kutucu as the targetman supported by Marco Gregoritsch and Daniel Caligiuri. In the midfield, Weston McKennie will play along with Alessandro Schopf and accompanied by two wing backs, Bastian Oczipka and Jonjo Kenny. On the defense line, Salif Sane, Ozan Kabak and Matija Nastacic will be the back three.
On the visitor’s side, Peter Bosz has to think of another way to optimise his available squad without Kai Havertz, plus some other names on the sideline such as Lars Bender, Jonathan Tah and Karim Bellarabi. Thus, if he is planning to return to 3-4-3 formation, Lucas Alario will be the only option available as the main frontman accompanied by Paulinho and Leon Bailey who play wide. In the midfield, Charles Aranguiz and Kerem Demirbay are the main option with Mitchell Weiser and Moussa Diaby in the midfield, whereas at the back, Edmund Tapsoba, Sven Bender and Wendell will be the back three.
Players to watch
Schalke’s notable figures for this match is the Everton loanee Jonjoe Kenny who has scored two goals and provided three assists, the Senegalese defender Salif Sane and the versatile American midfielder Weston McKennie.
Leverkusen are likely to rely on Kerem Demirbay and Moussa Diaby for this upcoming fixture. Both have contributed five goals and ten assists altogether. Another notable figure to watch is the Jamaican Leon Bailey who has netted five goals and made two assists.
Schalke vs Leverkusen Prediction
Both teams are entangled with the crisis of their own. However, the home side might have the bigger pressure as they are expected to win with such incomplete squad. It is certainly tough for David Wagner’s men to even pick up one point. Luckily, Leverkusen have to deal with the same situation. Yet, a narrow win for the visitors still seems more likely.