Leverkusen - Less than 48 hours after Thursday's narrow UEFA Europa League defeat against SL Benfica, Bayer 04 Leverkusen are back in action again at the BayArena as in-form FC Augsburg arrive on the back of an unbeaten start to 2013 (kick-off Saturday, 15.30 CET).
With next to no time to dwell on their European disappointment, Sami Hyypiä's charges will need to refocus fast after a stuttering start to the New Year.
Leverkusen finished 2012 as the second best team in the country but have have laboured since Matchday 18's 3-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, taking just two points and conceding six times in their last two Bundesliga outings.
Hyppiä bemoaned his side's busy schedule at Friday's press conference, but as inconvenient as the fixture list may be, midweek games are something the club were well aware of when the season began.
With just one win in their last six competitive games, these nonetheless are hard times for die Werkself. “We’re lacking that final bit of concentration, both in attack and defence," said co-trainer Sascha Lewandowski, while Hyypiä added: “It's a question of focus and we need to make sure we find it again. It won’t happen overnight."
The home side can take inspiration from their three games against Augsburg in the Bundesliga so far. Last season, they twice dispatched the Bavarians by a 4-1 scoreline and earlier this campaign an Andre Schürrle ensured Leverkusen strolled to an equally comfortable 3-1 win. Schürrle was withdrawn at half-time against Benfica as a precaution and should feature from the beginning on Saturday.
Hyypiä undoubtedly has a talented bunch at his disposal, but a fatigued group of players will hardly relish facing an Augsburg side full of energy and as competitive as anyone so far in the Rückrunde.
Die Függerstädter, like their Bavarian neighbours FC Bayern Munich, are yet to lose in the second half of the season so far, taking four points from their two away trips in 2013. And with Bundesliga survival their only aim, Augsburg are likely to present a stern test indeed.
Leverkusen: Leno - Carvajal, Wollscheid, Toprak, Boenisch - Reinartz, Bender, Rolfes - Sam, Schürrle - Kießling
Augsburg: Manninger - Parkhurst, Callsen-Bracker, Klavan, de Jong - Baier - Werner, Ji, Oehrl, Koo - Mölders
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