Will Bayer Leverkusen stay unbeaten against surprise package VfB Stuttgart? - © DFL
Will Bayer Leverkusen stay unbeaten against surprise package VfB Stuttgart? - © DFL

Bayer Leverkusen vs. VfB Stuttgart: How do they stack up?


Xabi Alonso's 2023/24 Bundesliga champions Bayer Leverkusen put their record-breaking unbeaten run on the line against VfB Stuttgart, who come to the BayArena on Saturday looking for points to boost their UEFA Champions League qualifying hopes. bundesliga.com takes a look at how the two teams stack up...


What sort of form are Leverkusen in? Record-breaking, in short. The Bundesliga champions are the first team in Bundesliga history to go 30 games without loss, and are unbeaten in 45 competitive games this season. If they win their remaining four matches, they will set a new points record for a Bundesliga campaign, bettering the current top mark of 91 set by Bayern Munich in their treble-winning season of 2012/13.

They did come within seconds of having their unbeaten streak ended by Borussia Dortmund last time out. "We don't think about it too much when we're behind. The game is played right to the end," said Josip Stanišić after he headed in the 97th-minute equaliser that silenced Signal Iduna Park and preserved Leverkusen's incredible unblemished record.

"It's not easy for the head when you're already champions," said Granit Xhaka to explain the near-slip of Alonso's side. But the former Arsenal and Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder was probably not surprised that he and his teammates conjured an equaliser: Stanišić's goal was Leverkusen's 16th in all competitions after the 89th minute.

Watch: How Bayer Leverkusen have stayed unbeaten in 2023/24

Stuttgart are also performing at club record levels this season, and - like Leverkusen - come into Matchday 31 boasting exactly 30 points more than they tallied in the whole of the 2022/23 campaign.

They are third in the table ahead of Matchday 31, three points off second-placed Bayern and four clear of fourth-placed RB Leipzig, but the gap in front got larger and the one behind shrank as Stuttgart were beaten at Werder Bremen last time out.

"A little luck, more calmness, coming to the right decision in the end," was forward Deniz Undav's view of the missing qualities that had led to the side's 11-game unbeaten run and club record streak of five successive away wins coming to an end.


Serhou Guirassy and Deniz Undav (l-r.) have formed the highest-scoring strike partnership in the Bundesliga this season. - IMAGO/Michael Weber IMAGEPOWER


This will be the third time this season the pair have met. They drew 1-1 on Matchday 14 before a dramatic DFB Cup quarter-final in early February turned decisively Leverkusen's way with Jonathan Tah scoring in the 90th-minute to take his team through 3-2.

It was another defeat for Stuttgart against an opponent they have beaten only once - 1-0 in April 2019 thanks to a Christian Gentner goal - in their last 25 competitive meetings.

Watch: Stuttgart and Leverkusen drew 1-1 in December

What sort of game will it be?

Given the way the two have played this season, you would expect goals, and that looks all the more likely given you have to go back to November 1998 for the last 0-0 between these two.

Leverkusen's tally of 75 goals after 30 games is only bettered by Bayern (87) while Stuttgart have the fourth-best attack with 68. The vast majority of their strikes have come from open play: 60 for Leverkusen, 59 for Stuttgart.

Those goals have come from different places, however. For Leverkusen, leading league scorers Victor Boniface and Florian Wirtz are on 11 each, but the next best are wing-backs Alejandro Grimaldo (9) and Jeremie Frimpong (8). No fewer than 16 different players have found the net in the Bundesliga for the 2023/24 champions with a league-high 50 goals coming from midfield.

Only 11 men have scored in the league for Stuttgart this season with the team heavily reliant on Serhou Guirassy, who is second only to Bayern's Harry Kane in the Bundesliga scoring charts, and Undav to get their goals.

Watch: Serhou Guirassy voted March's Player of the Month

They have netted 42 times between them - 25 for Guirassy, 17 for Undav - making them the most prolific duo in the division, and also earning them a place in Stuttgart club history. They have already surpassed the previous record of 37 goals that former Bayern and Germany coach Jürgen Klinsmann and Karl Allgöwer tallied together in the 1985/86 season.

Both teams commit a joint-league-low nine fouls on average per 90 minutes, so it should be a clean, fast-flowing, and hugely entertaining game.

What's at stake?

You could argue that for Leverkusen there is very little at stake as the club's first Bundesliga title has already been wrapped up. But think again. "The title is decided, but the Bundesliga isn't over. We want to respect the competition and all opponents," said coach Xabi Alonso, who will have to contend without the suspended Xhaka on Saturday. "What we have done is exceptional, but we want to do more. We can do it and achieve something even more historic."

Watch: Bayer Leverkusen a record 45 games unbeaten

While the prospect of becoming the first team to go through an entire Bundesliga season unbeaten spurs on Leverkusen, they can at least afford a slip-up. Stuttgart know they cannot.

Sebastian Hoeneß's team could be helped out by the result of Dortmund's visit to RB Leipzig earlier on Saturday - if the game between the two sides directly behind them were to end in a draw or a Leipzig win, Stuttgart would have the chance to increase the gap on fifth place by landing a result in Leverkusen. 

Stuttgart are certain to play European football next season for the first time in more than a decade. But a Europa League place would be a disappointment with the prospect of a first Champions League campaign since 2009/10 for so long looking like a real possibility. "I think everyone would like to play in the Champions League, and we don't want to let that be taken away from us anymore," said Undav after scoring in the 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 29 that ensured a continental competition return next season for Hoeneß's men.

Watch: VfB Stuttgart 3-0 Eintracht Frankfurt - highlights

The star men

Serhou Guirassy

It is difficult to underestimate the influence of Stuttgart's Guinea international forward, who broke Mario Gomez's single-season scoring club record when he netted the opener against Frankfurt for his 25th league strike of the campaign. No one could have predicted such an incredible tally.

Guirassy netted 11 league goals last season, which was already a career best, edging beyond the 10 he scored for Rennes in Ligue 1 in 2020/21. He even missed the first four games of the Rückrunde after being called up by his country for the Africa Cup of Nations, but a five-goal haul in March, which earned him Bundesliga Player of the Month honours, showed his sizzling Hinrunde form remains intact.

"We're running out of superlatives," said Hoeneß. "He's now broken the record, which it was clear he was going to do. But it's still fantastic. He's a great player, a great striker and a great guy who's just really good for us." Stuttgart is clearly good for Guirassy too.

Watch: Guirassy "proud" to break Mario Gomez's Stuttgart goal record

Florian Wirtz

While Xhaka has no doubt held the side together, and given Alonso the experienced head he wanted in the middle of the park, Wirtz has been the creative spark for Leverkusen's impressive attack. Only teammate Grimaldo (12) has more assists than Wirtz (11) league-wide, and Wirtz has matched that tally in goals to make him the Leverkusen player with most goal involvements in their title-winning campaign so far. He might have had a still more impressive goals tally: he has struck the woodwork five times this term.

Of course, Wirtz's talent has been clear to all for some time, but at the age of just 20 - and having reached 100 Bundesliga appearances earlier this season - the Germany international is now already no longer a prodigy, but a bona fide game-changer, and one who is only going to get better.

Watch: All Florian Wirtz's Bundesliga goals so far

"Every month, we see a Flo that is getting more and more mature. The most important thing is the football he plays, with his intelligence and quality. That's the Flo we want," said Alonso before praising Wirtz's family. "They have a very positive influence on him regarding the right steps to take. They know that in Leverkusen, he has a top team and a top club. I'm delighted his dad and family are ready to support him in the right way."