Augsburg - Bayer 04 Leverkusen will be aiming to arrest their alarming league form when they travel to FC Augsburg on Wednesday evening (kick-off 19:00 GMT/20:00 CET).
‘We have to look forward’
Sami Hyypiä’s side, who finished the Hinrunde in second place behind champions-elect FC Bayern München, have picked up just seven points from their nine league matches since the turn of the year – a run that has seen them slip behind Borussia Dortmund and FC Schalke 04 in the race for an automatic UEFA Champions League spot.
The Finn admitted his players are likely to be suffering from a lack of confidence following their latest setback – a 3-2 home reverse against this season’s entertainers 1899 Hoffenheim. “I think it’s becoming more of a mental issue than anything else,” the former centre-back told the assembled media on Tuesday. “Sometimes after a defeat, it’s better if you can work on certain things on the training ground but, in this instance, I’m glad that we’re playing again on Wednesday.”
As well as long-term casualties Robbie Kruse and Jens Hegeler, Hyypiä will also be without the services of midfielder Stefan Reinartz, who missed Sunday’s defeat to Hoffenheim with a heel injury. Emre Can could return to the starting line-up against die Fuggerstädter, a team Hyypiä holds in high regard. “They’re incredibly hard-working and played very well recently [against VfL Wolfsburg]. We have to make sure we forget about the past and look forward.”
‘Causing a stir’
Augsburg have indeed exceeded all expectations this season, but their home form has been a little disappointing of late. Markus Weinzierl’s side have only picked up one point from their last three league matches in front of their home fans. What is more, they have yet to beat any of the current top four teams in the division. “We want to keep causing a stir [by getting the three points],” the 39-year-old told Augsburger Allgemeine ahead of the match.
Victory for Augsburg would move them to within just two points of Leverkusen, but Weinzierl will be without the injured Paul Verhaegh, Jan Moravek and Dong-Won Ji for the clash at the SGL Arena. Augsburg’s coach remains confident ahead of the encounter, however: “It’s going to be a very interesting game. We can approach the match full of confidence. We will do everything in our power to end our winless run against the big teams.”
Augsburg: Hitz - Vogt, Callsen-Bracker, Klavan, Ostrzolek - Baier - Hahn, Kohr, Halil Altintop, To. Werner - Bobadilla
Leverkusen: Leno - Hilbert, Toprak, Spahic, Boenisch - L. Bender, Rolfes, Can - Sam, Kießling, Son
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