bundesliga.com has all you need to ensure you’re privy to all the pre-match rumblings ahead of the clash at the SGL-Arena…
Despite picking up just a point from their last two outings, Augsburg remain on course for Europe, but will keen at the very least to maintain their two-point lead over Leverkusen. Bayer, meanwhile, cannot afford to fall further adrift of the top four and need to recover lost ground following the demoralising 5-4 loss to VfL Wolfsburg.
Augsburg are still contending with a lengthy injury list, though No1 Marwin Hitz could return between the sticks. Christoph Janker is expected to start at right back after completing a two-game ban, but is replaced in the sin bin by Markus Feulner, who picked up his fifth booking of 2014/15 in the defeat to SV Werder Bremen.
Tin Jedvaj and Robbie Kruse are unavailable, while coach Roger Schmidt, who may have one eye on Club Atletico de Madrid in the UEFA Champions League next week, is also without suspended centre-back Emir Spahic. Ömer Toprak is set to return, while Karim Bellarabi should start after signing a new contract.
Ich freue mich sehr einen 5 Jahres Vertrag unterschrieben zu haben! Auf eine gemeinsame und erfolgreiche Zukunft :) pic.twitter.com/AHi1Nb81u4— Karim Bellarabi (@KimoBellarabi) February 20, 2015
Ghanaian international Abdul Rahman Baba failed to make a triumphant return from Africa Cup of Nations duty against Bremen, but the experience has done the left-back the world of good. While his attacking qualities are well documented, Baba’s main task on Saturday will be stifling the likes of Bellarabi, Julian Brandt and...
…Heung Min Son. Taking into account Hakan Calhanoglu and Stefan Kießling’s lack of form at present, the Werkself’s hopes ride on the South Korean, who almost inspired the most sensational of comebacks by bagging a second-half hat-trick against Wolfsburg. He will need to recreate that performance to break down a resilient Augsburg.
Schmidt (r.): "We're working hard to eradicate our mistakes, but the team's mood is as good as ever. We want to move above of Augsburg."
Markus Weinzierl: "We're strong at home and we war to show that again. It's not about a place in Europe for us; it's about three important points."
The Fuggerstädter have dropped points on home soil just three times in 2014/15, but are without a win in their last two outings - a dip in form by their lofty standards. Leverkusen boast the league’s fourth best away record (4W, 2D, 4L), but have most recently lost successive league games for the first time under Schmidt.
Augsburg have never managed to take points off of Leverkusen in seven previous Bundesliga outings, scoring six and conceding 19, and suffered a 3-1 loss in the corresponding fixture in the 2013/14 campaign. Kießling opened the scoring in that game and will be looking to add to the six goals he’s scored against Augsburg on Saturday.
Augsburg: Hitz - Janker, Callsen-Bracker, Klavan, Baba - Baier - Bobadilla, Höjbjerg, Altintop, Werner - Ji
Leverkusen: Leno - Donati, Toprak, Papadopoulos, Wendell - Castro, Rolfes - Bellarabi, Brandt, Son - Kießling