SC Freiburg will be bidding to strengthen their claim for European football next season and all but end Bayer Leverkusen's lingering hopes in the process when these two teams meet at the Schwarzwald-Stadion on Sunday (kick-off 15:30CEST/13:30GMT).
Were the season to end now, Freiburg would ensure both sides promoted from Bundesliga 2 last season will be playing in Europe next term, but they still have five games left to rubber-stamp their place on the continent with RB Leipzig. Victory over Leverkusen would be a huge step closer and the news is good for coach Christian Streich, who can welcome Nicolas Höfler back from a knee injury, although the absence of Vincenzo Grifo still weakens his side.
Tayfun Korkut knows this game is a must-win one if Die Werkself are to catch the top six and he will be glad to welcome Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez back for such an important fixture. The Mexican is likely to take the place of Kai Havertz in the starting XI with Karim Bellarabi featuring in what is expected to be Leverkusen's strongest possible first team.
Freiburg:Schwolow - Ignjovski, Söyüncü, Kempf, Günter (c) - Frantz, Höfler - Bulut, Haberer - Niederlechner, Petersen
Coach: Christian Streich
Absentees: Torrejon (adductor), Grifo (knee) Philipp (thigh)
Leverkusen:Leno - Hilbert, Dragovic, Toprak (c), Wendell - Havertz, Baumgartlinger, Kampl, Brandt - Volland, Chicharito
Coach: Tayfun Korkut
Absentees: Jedvaj (suspended), Bender (ankle), Calhanoglu (suspended)
- Despite suffering their biggest defeat of the season at Leipzig (4-0), Freiburg are still in sixth and occupy a Europa League place.
- Leverkusen have won just one of their last eight matches. Their cushion to the relegation play-off has shrunk in this time from 11 to four points.
- Freiburg have won by a one-goal margin ten times this season (more than any other team), whilst Die Werkself have lost by the same margin ten times (a league high).
- Leverkusen have lost four of their six away games since the winter break, winning only at struggling Augsburg (3-1) and Darmstadt (2-0).
- Bayer have not scored for two games, which is their longest drought for over a year and a half (3 on that occasion).
- Freiburg are yet to lose a home Bundesliga game against Leverkusen under Christian Streich (W1, D2).