Leverkusen boss Heiko Herrlich’s attempt to freshen up his side for the last home outing against Hertha Berlin didn’t work out as planned – in fact, the 2-0 loss at the hands of the Berliners was just their 2nd home defeat of the season (the other being against reigning champions Bayern Munich) – but the return of key players like Charles Aranguiz and Leon Bailey to the starting eleven saw them leave Hamburg with three points in a 2-1 win last weekend. Leverkusen will be looking to keep this flow going in a vital encounter against Schalke this weekend – these three points could be make or break for both sides in their attempt to finish within the top four.
Schalke 04 had a storming first half of the season compared to their disappointing 2016/17 campaign, but a weaker than expected return after the winter break is not how coach Domenico Tedesco would have wanted to begin 2018. Last weekend’s crucial 2-1 win at home to Hoffenheim – just their second league win of the year (W2 D1 L3) – has very much kept them in the race for a UEFA Champions League spot, but with just one win in their last six Bundesliga outings on the road, the Blues shouldn’t be too optimistic ahead of a match against one of the toughest opponents in the league.
Bayer Leverkusen have been involved in some of the highest scoring matches in the Bundesliga this season – a 4-4 draw against Hannover and a 5-1 win over Gladbach stand out – and this of all fixtures should be another high scoring affair. Schalke, though not in the best away form, have rarely given a “poor” away performance. In fact, their most recent defeats on the road have been against two of the best teams in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich (a 2-1 defeat) and RB Leipzig (a 3-1 defeat). Most notable is that even when Schalke lose or draw, they almost always tend to get on the score-sheet – Schalke have failed to score in just 18% of away matches this term. With Leverkusen equally as dangerous in front of goal – failing to score in just one of their eleven at home – backing ‘both teams to score’ looks a must here.
Leverkusen have been the dominant side in this match-up in recent years (see head-to-head), and with the home advantage again this weekend, you should fancy them to come out on top. All of Schalke’s away defeats have come against teams above them in the table (at the time of the match being played) and Leverkusen are as dangerous as ever with the return of Leon Bailly and Kevin Volland to their starting XI – in fact, Bailly has scored 5 goals over his last six starts for the club. Schalke’s defense has been far more inconsitent on the road than at home too, conceding 2 goals or more in four of their last six away outings, so the price looks good for the hosts to have a bit of a field day on Sunday. Our prediction: a 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen win.
Head To Head
Schalke drew 1-1 at home to Leverkusen in the reverse fixture in September. Leverkusen have lost just one of the last seven meetings between them (W4 D2 L1).
Bayer Leverkusen vs Schalke Stats
- Both teams have scored in 65% of Leverkusen’s matches this season.
- Over 3.5 goals have been scored in 45% of Leverkusen’s home matches.
- Schalke have conceded 2 goals or more in four of their last six Bundesliga matches on the road.
- Schalke have scored at least one goal in 82% of their away matches.