Fürth - Bayer 04 Leverkusen hope to bounce back from their UEFA Europa League last 32 exit as Sami Hyypiä's third-placed side travel to bottom of the table Greuther Fürth for Matchday 23's concluding fixture (kick-off: Sunday, 17:30 CET).
Hyypiä: "New coach can give boost"
Leverkusen headed straight for nearby Nuremberg on their return from Lisbon after Thursday's game against Benfica SL to give the team a bit more recovery time and help set their sights on the upcoming task against the Clover Leaves. "As a player, I always thought it was best to get back on the pitch as soon as possible to train or play", explained head coach Hyypiä, who hopes for an immediate reaction to the 2-1 defeat in the Portuguese capital.
15 places separate Bayer and Fürth in the standings as they go into the final twelve matches of 2012/13, but Hyypiä warned the promoted club, who replaced head coach Mike Büskens with caretaker duo Ludwig Preis and Rouven Schröder in midweek, must not be taken lightly. “We definitely won’t underestimate Fürth. A new coach can always give a team a boost", the 39-year-old former Finland international said; "That makes our task tricky.”
With only Lars Bender slightly doubtful for Sunday's encounter after being "kicked twice on the right calf" (co-coach Sascha Lewandowski) against Benfica and missing a session at 1. FC Nuremberg's training complex, there is a good chance Leverkusen could send out the same starting eleven - although Sidney Sam, scorer of both goals when the sides met in September, is an obvious alternative out wide.
Fürth gunning for play-off spot
Fürth have made it clear that despite Büskens' dismissal, the team's focus will have to lie full focus on sporting matters. “The match against Bayer 04 Leverkusen takes priority", said team manager Martin Meichelbeck, "we want to win the game on Sunday and get back into the battle for the play-off spot.”
The Franconians are currently six points adrift of 16th place after FC Augsburg's 2-1 win against 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday, and have yet to taste victory at the Trolli Arena in their first ever Bundesliga season. "We hope to break that duck", said interim coach Preis. "There's always room for improvement in football, and that's exactly what we're aiming for."
Fürth: Hesl - Zimmermann, Sobiech, Mavraj, Baba - Fürstner, Geis - Klaus, Pledl, Prib - Djurdjic
Leverkusen: Leno - Carvajal, Wollscheid, Toprak, Boenisch - Rolfes - L. Bender, Reinartz - Castro, Schürrle - Kießling