Granit Xhaka calls for ‘cool head’ ahead of Bayer Leverkusen’s trip to rivals Köln

Bayer Leverkusen make their short 14km trip to rivals FC Köln on Sunday afternoon but as Bundesliga leaders, Granit Xhaka has warned that B04 must “stay calm” as they look to go 34 games unbeaten.

Speaking to Kicker, Xhaka said: “The good thing is that in a derby the table doesn’t matter. Because: A derby is a derby. It’s about much more than the table.”

FC Köln, despite their position in the table, have somewhat of a decent record against Bayer Leverkusen. The Billy Goats have won two of their last four Bundesliga games against Leverkusen, who have also won two.

Xhaka added: “It’s a game that’s brutally important for the club, for us players, that we bring three points back to Leverkusen.

“It will definitely be a heated game, but we have to stay calm on the field and concentrate on the football, then we’ll come back with something.”

Xhaka is no stranger to a Rheinderby. The 31-year-old spent four seasons at Borussia Mönchengladbach before making the switch to Arsenal. The Swiss midfielder made his return to North Rhine-Westphalia last summer, joining Bayer Leverkusen, who sit eight points clear of Bayern Munich.

But on Sunday, expect it to be a rollercoaster of emotions. Bayer Leverkusen are looking to secure their first every trophy, while Köln are fighting for their Bundesliga survival under new head coach Timo Schultz.

GGFN | Daniel Pinder

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