If the Werkself wish to play in the Champions League again next season, they cannot afford to lose any further ground in the league, but Freiburg will be no pushovers as they seek some much-needed points to move out of the bottom three. bundesliga.com looks ahead to Saturday's BayArena clash...
Leverkusen are on course for the quarter-finals of the Champions League, although qualification for next season's edition via their league placing remains their primary objective this season. Victory over Freiburg is therefore crucial to their hopes of sneaking into the top four. Christian Streich's men have only lost twice in 2015, though, and their survival hopes can be given a huge boost with a positive result in Leverkusen.
Tin Jedvaj is not yet back in full training and will miss out again, although he may return for the DFB Cup tie with 1. FC Kaiserslautern in midweek. Lars Bender is also a doubt after picking up a knock against Atletico, a game which may have given the energy levels a pounding with coach Roger Schmidt to "assess whose batteries are already full again" before naming his team.
Marc Torrejon serves the first of a two-game ban for the red card he picked up in the 1-1 draw with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim last weekend. In addition to his absence, Marc-Oliver Kempf has torn ankle ligaments, while Stefan Mitrovic will not be available on Saturday, despite returning to training this week.
Karim Bellarabi has been driving defences dizzy in recent weeks, and since signing a new contract for the Werkself, he has been busy underlining his importance to the club. A sublime backheel to set up Hakan Calhanoglu in the 1-0 win over Atletico, having ripped the Spanish defence out of position, was the latest trick from his growing repertoire.
Vladimir Darida has been holding things together in the Freiburg midfield since reverting to a deeper role. Previously used more in an attacking position, the Czech Republic international is now at the core of the action, boasting an almost flawless passing record (80 per cent success) with decent numbers in the tackle (50 per cent).
Roger Schmidt (Leverkusen coach, r.): "If we show the same attitude as against Atletico, then I'm convinced that we'll beat Freiburg."
Christian Streich (Freiburg coach): "We want to encourage our players that they can play good football, and they can do it also in Leverkusen."
The midweek win over Atletico was a big filip for a faltering Leverkusen side, who had picked up just a point from their last three Bundesliga games. Freiburg have lost only two of their last five, on the other hand, including an away win at Hertha Berlin and a draw last weekend against Hoffenheim.
The BayArena has not been a happy hunting ground for Freiburg, who have won only four times in Leverkusen, most recently in March 2012. Overall, Leverkusen have won almost half of the 31 meetings between the two clubs, although the spoils were shared in the Matchday 6 encounter this season.
Leverkusen: Leno - Castro, Toprak, Spahic, Wendell - Bender, Rolfes - Bellarabi, Calhanoglu, Son - Drmic
Freiburg: Bürki - Riether, Krmas, Höhn, Günter - Darida, Sorg - Klaus, Schmid - Philipp, Mehmedi