Bundesliga Preview | Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Bayer Leverkusen – Florian Wirtz to return for the Rhine derby?

Both Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen begin the year having something to prove as they face off at Borussia Park on Sunday. 

Gladbach will start with a new face in goal on Sunday, with new signing Jonas Omlin likely to replace compatriot Yann Sommer. The 34-year-old ended his 8.5-year stay at Gladbach this winter as he moved to Bayern Munich. Omlin will be hoping he can use Gladbach so he can also replace Sommer at international level as well. 

Other rumoured departures Ramy Bensebaini and Marcus Thuram are both likely to stay at the club for the rest of the season so both will want to use this as an opportunity to impress potential suitors as well as qualify for European competition. 

Gladbach started the season strongly, but a poor run of results in October meant they dropped down to 8th. Wins against VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund before the World Cup break saw them end the year strong. If Gladbach are to rebuild their squad, European football should be the minimum to give them the best platform to do this, meaning a win against Leverkusen is crucial.

Despite the dreadful start to the season under Gerardo Seoane, Leverkusen finished the year strong under new head coach Xabi Alonso. After a bedding in period, they won three games on the bounce pulling them out of the relegation zone, whilst also qualifying for the Europa League. 

The biggest talking point for Leverkusen is the return of Florian Wirtz. The 19-year-old has not played since March when he went off with a ligament injury against 1. FC Köln. He was key to Leverkusen’s Champions League push last season and it is unknown whether he will be able to emulate it after such a long injury.

Alonso will hope Wirtz will be able to gel again with the likes of Jeremie Frimpong and Moussa Diaby who have been Leverkusen’s stand-out players this season. 

Last season Leverkusen won both games beating Gladbach 4-0 at home before again beating them 2-1 in the return in May. 

Predicted Line-ups:

Borussia Mönchengladbach:

Omlin – Scally, Itakura, Elvedi, Bensebaini – Weigl, Koné – Kramer – Hofmann, Plea – Thuram

Bayer Leverkusen:

Hradecky – Tapsoba, Tah, Hincapie – Frimpong, Palacios, Andrich, Bakker – Diaby, Wirtz, Adli

GGFN | Jack Meenan


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