Die Werkself, without a win on the home front since their previous European outing, have been struggling for form in recent weeks and a successful cross-border trip would provide some welcome respite.
Kießling kicking into gear
Leverkusen's performances on the international stage thus far have been similarly underwhelming, due in no small part part to their inability to make the most of the scoring chances they have created. Fortunately, Stefan Kießling is bucking the trend, the 28-year-old frontman having scored five goals in his last five games, including the winner against Rosenborg Trondheim
Bayer's reliance on Kießling is a concern, although they can take heart from having kept back-to-back clean sheets against Metalist Kharkiv and Rosenborg. "As in the last games, where we racked up four points, we need to produce a disciplined performance," sporting director Rudi Völler noted on the club website. "From there on, we can start to think about taking the next step towards the knockout stages."
Rapid Wien may be without a point in the competition so far, but Bayer are certainly not underestimating the job in hand against the 32-time Austrian champions. "We're expecting to experience a special backdrop in front of 50,000 keyed-up fans," Völler said, before warning his players to maintain their focus: "We're travelling here as the favourites, but if our performance falls even a few percent short, we won't leave the pitch as winners. Rapid will be fired up and, in this atmosphere, even more motivated."
Rapid Wien: Königshofer - Trimmel, Sonnleitner, Gerson, Katzer - Prager, Ildiz - Drazan, Burgstaller, Boyd - Alar
Leverkusen: Leno - Schwaab (Carvajal), Friedrich, Toprak, Kadlec - Bender, Hosogai, Castro - Bellarabi, Schürrle - Kießling