SV Darmstadt 98 vs. Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga Preview

SV Darmstadt 98 vs. Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga: preview, prediction, team news, lineups

Two teams at different spots on the Bundesliga table clash at Merck-Stadion am Bollenfalltor on Saturday as last-place SV Darmstadt 98 hosts league leader Bayer Leverkusen.

The home team wants payback after a tough 5-1 loss at Leverkusen five months ago.

Match preview

Darmstadt’s streak without a win in the Bundesliga extended to 12 games after a close 1-0 loss to Union Berlin last weekend.

Benedict Hollerbach scored the game’s only goal after the break, leaving Darmstadt at the bottom of the table and six points from safety.

Coach Torsten Lieberknecht faces pressure to improve the team’s performance to avoid dropping to the second tier. Darmstadt has only 11 points from 19 games this season; they had even fewer (nine) at this point in the season they were relegated from the top flight.

Winning on Saturday seems unlikely for Darmstadt, as they’ve lost six out of their last seven Bundesliga games against Leverkusen, including all three at home.

Darmstadt hasn’t won in 13 consecutive Bundesliga games since the 1981-82 season. They need a win on Saturday to avoid matching this 42-year-old record. Their only win against Leverkusen was in September 2015, with a 1-0 victory away.

Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten start to 2024 ended last weekend with a 0-0 draw at home against Borussia Monchengladbach despite having 75% possession and 28 shots.

This was the first time Xabi Alonso’s team failed to score since last May, allowing Bayern Munich to narrow the gap at the top to just two points. Both teams will face off in a crucial match at the BayArena on February 10.

Leverkusen remains unbeaten in all competitions this season, not losing any of their 28 matches. Their draw against Monchengladbach tied a club record for consecutive games without a loss.

Alonso, rumored to be a candidate for Liverpool’s manager position, is confident his team can win on Saturday. They’ve only dropped four points from 27 available in away games, conceding the fewest goals in the league.

Leverkusen’s upcoming schedule includes three games against teams in the bottom three. Alonso knows these games are crucial for their title hopes.

SV Darmstadt 98 Bundesliga form:

L L D L D L

Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form:

D W W W W D

Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions):

W W W W W D

Team News

Darmstadt is without Marvin Mehlem (broken leg), Mathias Honsak, Aaron Seydel (both calf), Fraser Hornby, and Braydon Manu (both ankle) due to injuries. Fabian Nurnberger and Clemens Riedel are doubtful after ankle injuries in the last game.

Riedel’s possible absence might lead to starts for Christoph Zimmermann or Matej Maglica at center-back. Emir Karic could start on the left if Nurnberger isn’t fit.

Julian Justvan, who joined Darmstadt on loan this month, is expected to keep his spot in attack alongside Luca Pfeiffer and top scorer Tim Skarke, who has six goals.

For Leverkusen, Victor Boniface (groin), Exequiel Palacios, and Arthur (both thigh) are out with injuries. Odilon Kossounou is still at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Edmond Tapsoba and Amine Adli might return to the squad after their AFCON duties ended.

Goalkeeper Matej Kovar made his Bundesliga debut last game but coach Alonso confirmed Lukas Hradecky will be back in goal on Saturday.

SV Darmstadt 98 possible starting lineup:

Schuhen;

Zimmermann, Gjasula, Klarer;

Bader, Franjic, Holland, Karic;

Justvan, Skarke;

Pfeiffer

Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:

Hradecky;

Stanisic, Tah, Hincapie;

Frimpong, Andrich, Xhaka, Grimaldo;

Hofmann, Wirtz;

Schick

Prediction: SV Darmstadt 98 0-3 Bayer Leverkusen

Despite the draw with Monchengladbach, Leverkusen should easily beat Darmstadt. They’re expected to win comfortably against a Darmstadt team that’s been struggling defensively, giving up more than two goals per game on average in the Bundesliga this season.

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