'They're getting better'
Only a point separates third-place Leverkusen from class-toppers Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, with all three sides having won six of their opening seven Bundesliga encounters so far this term. Unlike die Werkself, however, Pep Guardiola's men remain unbeaten.
"Right now, Bayern are stronger than they were a month ago," warned Leverkusen head coach Sami Hyypiä. "They're getting better week by week, but being the best team doesn't always equate to a win in football; the stronger team on the day will win. I'm not the sort of person who goes into a game thinking we can't win."
Lest we forget, under the watchful gaze of Hyypiä and former coach Sascha Lewandowski, Bayer were the only team to beat Bayern in the league last season - and at the Allianz Arena at that. "It was a hard work," recalled Leverkusen striker Stefan Kießling. "We defended well and scored at just the right time. Of course we rode our luck as well, but Bayern had just as much luck in the reverse fixture when they won thanks to an own goal."
Indeed, in another curious subplot to Saturday's showdown, Bayern were the last team to come away from the BayArena with all three points, long ago on March 16. Now they return to the Rhineland on the back of a 32-match unbeaten league run, having accrued a staggering 41 points from the 45 on offer in that time. No less impressive, Leverkusen have picked up 38 points during the self-same period.
'They can overtake us'
"It's going to be a really, really tough away game," said Bayern midfielder and former Werkself loanee Toni Kroos, all too aware of Leverkusen's upward form curve. "They can overtake us with a win. They're not exactly the sort of team to sit back. They're a team that wants to play football, but there are several teams like that until they come up against Bayern."
English Premier League outfit Manchester City found that out the hard way in the UEFA Champions League this past week as Bayern put pay to any lingering question marks surrounding the Guardiola blueprint, registering an emphatic 3-1 win. "We played so well against Manchester City, it was just as we imagined," added Kroos. "Now we start all over again and want to deliver exactly the same level of performance." A stark word of warning if ever there was one.
Leverkusen: Leno - Donati, Wollscheid, Toprak, Can - L. Bender, Reinartz, Rolfes - Sam, Kießling, Hegeler
FC Bayern: Neuer - Rafinha, J. Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Lahm - Robben, Schweinsteiger, T. Kroos, Ribery - Mandzukic
Check out this barnstorming meeting between the two sides on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: