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Preview: Hoffenheim vs. Bayer Leverkusen - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Hoffenheim vs. Bayer Leverkusen - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Monday's Bundesliga clash between Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Hoffenheim take on Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga on Monday, with the visitors looking to cement their position in the Europa League qualification places.

The hosts, meanwhile, are not entirely assured of survival just yet, but look to be heading for a lower mid-table finish after a disappointing campaign.


Match preview

Hoffenheim boss Sebastian Hoeness has been plagued by injuries, illness and inconsistency throughout the season, with the nadir of it undoubtedly their Europa League knockout exit to Norwegian outfit Molde at the end of February.

Despite dominating possession at Augsburg last weekend, Hoffenheim fell to a 2-1 defeat to Heiko Herrlich's side, who leapfrogged them in the table in the process.

Florian Grillitsch continued to look like a fish out of water in his makeshift centre-back role, with Andre Hahn racing in behind him from Ruben Vargas's long pass forward to double the hosts' lead after Vargas had opened the scoring with a terrific finish into the far corner.

Hoeness's side did improve after the break, with Ihlas Bebou going close before Robert Skov pulled one back with his first league goal of the season and one of the best strikes of the weekend, but they could not find an equaliser as they slipped to their 13th league defeat of the season.

A seven-point cushion above the bottom three should be enough with only seven games remaining, but stranger things have happened.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, boosted their hopes of finishing inside the top six places with a routine 2-1 win against struggling Schalke 04 last time out.

Hannes Wolf took charge of his first match as interim head coach after Peter Bosz's dismissal prior to the international break, with the 39-year-old having plenty to work on between now and the end of the season as he looks to attain the job on a full-time basis.

Indeed, while Lucas Alario and Patrik Schick both getting themselves on the scoresheet would have pleased their new boss, the fact that Leverkusen only had three shots on target against comfortably the weakest side - and defence - in the Bundesliga may have been mildly concerning.

Moreover, despite Wolf opting to utilise three central defenders, 37-year-old Klaas Jan Huntelaar frequently found too much space in Leverkusen's opponent area.

The legendary Netherlands striker became Schalke's oldest ever goalscorer to set up a nervy finish, having earlier missed a guilt-edged chance and had a goal marginally ruled out for offside.

Wolf will be fully aware that a better performance may be required to overcome Hoffenheim on Monday.

Hoffenheim Bundesliga form:
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L

Hoffenheim form (all competitions):
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L

Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form:
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W

Team News

Hoffenheim continue to be plagued by injuries, albeit not quite to the extent of other periods throughout the season, with Dennis Geiger and Benjamin Hubner ruled out for the season.

Top goalscorer Andrej Kramaric is likely to be out until early May with an ankle issue, while Sargis Adamyan, Kostas Stafylidis and Havard Nordtveit are all hoping to return at some point during April.

Central defender Kevin Vogt is available once again, though, which could allow Grillitsch to return to his preferred midfield position.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, have two of their own long-term absentees in the shape of Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Julian Baumgartlinger, who will not play again this season having suffered ACL injuries.

Santiago Arias and Lars Bender are hoping to return to first-team action at some point in April after lengthy injuries of their own, but will not be rushed back ahead of schedule.

Wolf favoured Alario over Schick in attack against Schalke, but may look to find a way to accommodate both strikers in his 3-5-2 system given that both forwards continue to score at an impressive rate this season.

Hoffenheim possible starting lineup:
Baumann; Posch, Vogt, Richards; Kaderabek, Rudy, Samassekou, John; Baumgartner; Bebou, Dabbur

Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Tah, Bender, Tapsoba; Bellarabi, Amiri, Demirbay, Aranguiz, Wendell; Schick, Alario


We say: Hoffenheim 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen

We can see an entertaining affair in Hoffenheim on Monday night, with both sides generally better offensively than they are defensively.

Hoffenheim will be looking to avoid any lingering relegation doubts with a positive performance and result, while Leverkusen will be hoping to cement their position in the Europa League qualification places.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data


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Bundesliga Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Bayern MunichBayern32235492405274
2RB Leipzig32197657282964
3Wolfsburg32179657322560
4Borussia DortmundDortmund321841069442558
5Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt311511562471556
6Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen32149951351651
7Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach321210105952746
8Union BerlinUnion Berlin32111384741646
9Stuttgart32119125452242
10Freiburg31118124546-141
11Hoffenheim32109134952-339
12Mainz 053198143450-1635
13Augsburg3296173249-1733
14Werder Bremen32710153451-1731
15Hertha Berlin3079143849-1130
16Arminia Bielefeld3186172351-2830
17FC Koln3178163256-2429
RSchalke 04Schalke3127222080-6013
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