Bayer Leverkusen: The win against FC in December was the high-point for Bayer Leverkusen this season. Top of the league and unbeaten. However, since then, things have taken a turn for the worse. Just three wins in the Bundesliga and exits in both the Europa Leaue and DFB-Pokal cost Peter Bosz his job. Hannes Wolf is now overseeing the squad as head coach and picked up four points from his first two games.
1. FC Köln: After the derby day victory against Borussia Mönchengladbach, 1. FC Köln are winless in the Bundesliga. Two points from the eight following games have seen FC drop from 14th to 17th, with the defeat against Mainz last weekend. That also signalled the end of Markus Gisdol’s time in charge after 54 matches at the helm. Friedhelm Funkel now takes over for a second time as FC head coach, with six games left to keep the club in the Bundesliga.
Hannes Wolf: “The clear win in the first game doesn’t play a big role. There is no point in looking too far into the past. Köln having a new coach influences the preparation. For example, we can't know how they did what they did in the last few games. Therefore, we have to focus on ourselves.”
Friedhelm Funkel: “I always went into games like this calmly. It's nothing unusual to play against Leverkusen now. For me it's more of a Rheinische Duel than a derby. The derby is Köln against Gladbach. We know what to expect from Leverkusen in terms of individual quality and in terms of pace and tempo.”
Bayer Leverkusen: Santiago Arias, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Julian Baumgartlinger and Paulinho remain absent with their long-term injuries. The quartet aside, Hannes Wolf has the same set of players available from the 0:0 draw against TSG Hoffenheim on Monday.
1. FC Köln: Ismail Jakobs and Ondrej Duda will both miss the game due to injury and suspension (five yellow cards), respectively. Sebastian Andersson is battling to be fit, while Jan Thielmann is still recovering from his muscle injury.
Moussa Diaby is enjoying an even better season this term in comparison to his promising breakthrough campaign last year. He has contributed two more league goals in comparison to 2019-20 and, overall, has been a much more consistent performer. Across the 37 games in all competitions, Diaby has nine goals and 12 assists to his name. The exciting forward will be hoping to break double figures for both in the final few matches.
The last 10 Bundesliga meetings between the teams have been relatively even. Four wins for Leverkusen and three for FC, while the remaining three matches ended in a stalemate. Funkel will be hoping for a repeat performance of November 2015, FC’s last away win in Leverkusen, as Dominic Maroh’s brace secured all three points.
Referee: Sören Storks (Velen).Assistant Referees: Thorben Siewer, Thorsten Schiffner.Fourth Official: Marcel Unger.Video Assistant Referee: Daniel Siebert.
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