In the second game week in the Bundesliga, one of the marquee games of the weekend sees a derby of sorts as Bayer Leverkusen travel to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The two teams got off to mixed starts in their openers.
A new-look Gladbach side under former Leverkusen manager Gerardo Seaone drew their first game against Augsburg in a 4-4 thriller. Die Fohlen had taken a commanding lead by going 3-1 up within 40 minutes, however, they then collapsed in a spectacular manner going in at halftime drawing 3-3 thanks to goals from Maximilian Bauer and a penalty from Sven Michel to equalise the game. Gladbach then went 4-3 down in the second half before in the 97th minute Tomáš Čvančara equalised with a penalty to rescue a point for Gladbach.
The draw with Augsburg showed the weaknesses that Gladbach currently possesses in their defence and will need to be amended if they want to stand a chance of beating a strong Leverkusen side.
Leverkusen on the other hand faced a tough test against RB Leipzig and prevailed with a 3-2 win. The win against Leipzig showed the strength of the Leverkusen team and how new arrivals Granit Xhaka, Victor Boniface, Alejandro Grimaldo and Jonas Hofmann have all integrated well into the team.
Under Xabi Alonso, Leverkusen were already on the upward trajectory but their opening-day performance against Leipzig has shown that they have only gotten stronger over pre-season.
The big talking point for this game will be the return of Hofmann. In a summer where Gladbach lost Lars Stindl, Marcus Thuram and Ramy Bensebaini, Hofmann was expected to be a key piece of the club’s rebuild over the summer but the fact that he left the club not only to a local ‘rival’ but in such a controversial manner means that the reception he receives in Borussia Park on Saturday will not be a friendly one.
Manu Koné, Stefan Lainer and Christoph Kramer are the only long-term absences for Gladbach going into this game. Luca Netz and Cvancara both picked up minor injuries in mid-week but are likely to be fit for the game.
While for Leverkusen, their absentees are Amine Adli, Piero Hincapié and Patrik Schick. Adli and Hincapié are both suspended while Hincapié and Schick are injured.
Omlin – Scally, Itakura, Wöber, Netz – Weigl, Neuhaus – Honorat, Plea, Ngoumou – Cvancara
Hradecky – Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba – Frimpong, Palacios, Xhaka, Grimaldo – Hofmann, Wirtz – Boniface
GGFN | Jack Meenan