Bundesliga preview: Leverkusen chasing fifth straight win
By Football News
Bayer Leverkusen's match-up at Hannover pits two sides whose fortunes are moving in opposite directions in the German top flight.
Sami Hyypia's Bayer are in fine fettle heading into the 16th round of the season, with the former Liverpool defender leading his chargers to second place on the back of four consecutive Bundesliga wins.
Though they trail leaders Bayern Munich by eight points, Hyypia's men will be confident of at least maintaining that gap when they head to the AWD-Arena to face Mirko Slomka's struggling side on Sunday.
Following three defeats in their last four encounters, including a 5-1 rout at the hands of Bayern a fortnight earlier, Hoffenheim linger in 12th place and too close to the relegation places for comfort.
With their nearest rivals favoured to pick up another three points, Bayern will be out to do likewise at another struggling side, Augsburg.
Jupp Heynckes' men, fresh from finishing on top of their Champions League group after a 4-1 defeat of BATE in midweek, head to the SGL Arena to face a side who are winless in eight Bundesliga games and sit 17th in the standings.
Third-placed Borussia Dortmund find themselves 11 points behind the leaders and must account for Wolfsburg to keep their title defence alive with Juergen Klopp's side in serious danger of falling out of the title race before Christmas.
Should Dortmund slip up at home, Schalke could pounce and move into third, but Huub Stevens' side will have to arrest a winless run of four matches if they are to claim three points at eighth-placed Stuttgart.
Eintracht Frankfurt are another team within striking range of the top places but will also need to arrest a slump in order to break through.
Werder Bremen will be looking to inflict a third straight defeat on Armin Veh's men, who could move into fourth by the end of the round.
In other matches, Mainz head to Borussia Moenchengladbach seeking a third consecutive win and possible foray into the top four, while Hamburger host lowly Hoffenheim to kick off the round on Friday.
Freiburg await the visit of Greuther Fuerth, who prop up the table on eight points and have not won since a second-round win over Mainz, and Nuernberg welcome Fortuna Duesseldorf in a battle between two struggling sides.