Leverkusen - Pretenders to the top-four throne Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach lock horns on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 15:30 CEST) in one of Matchday 4's standout ties.

Genuine Champions League contenders or not, a rip-roaring atmosphere is guaranteed at the BayArena in what will be the 61st Rhine derby between the two clubs.

Common ground


It's not just regional roots that die Werkself share with their near-neighbours Mönchengladbach. Both were in Europa League action on Thursday night, each serving up a hatful of chances but ultimately having to settle for goalless draws against, on paper, inferior opposition.

Their respective domestic form tells a similarly profligate tale with the two top-four hopefuls wasting numerous presentable opportunities in their three Bundesliga outings to date.

Up against it


Leverkusen's current tally of three points from nine on offer makes uneasy reading for a side who last season missed out on a Champions League qualfying place by just six points and who, pre-season, were widely being tipped to go one better in 2012/13.

So, having already lost to Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 1 and Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 3, a third defeat in four is unthinkable for Sami Hyypiä's charges. The concern ahead of the derby showdown, aside from tired legs, is their measly record against Mönchengladbach of just one win in their last five meetings.

Transition


Lucien Favre's side recorded a 2-1 win in last season's corresponding fixture en route to a surprise fourth-placed finish. Matching such a feat was always going to be a tough ask, but that's not to say they don't have enough quality to mix it once again with the Bundesliga's big boys, even without departed trio Dante, Marco Reus and Roman Neustädter .

There is, though, still plenty of room for improvement. A bit of luck in front of goal would certainly push the Foals in the right direction, and there's no doubt early season Rhine bragging rights would go a long way on the momentum front.

Possible line-ups:

Leverkusen: Leno - Schwaab, Wollscheid, Toprak, Hosogai - Bender, Reinartz, Rolfes - Castro, Kießling, Schürrle

Gladbach: ter Stegen - Jantschke, Stranzl, Dominguez, Daems - Nordtveit, Xhaka - Herrmann, Cigerci, Arango - de Jong

Christopher Mayer-Lodge