Bundesliga Preview: Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich
By Football News
Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen will be brimming with confidence when they meet on Saturday after successful midweek European outings.
UEFA Champions League holders Bayern thrashed Manchester City 3-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday to continue their hugely positive start to life under Pep Guardiola.
On the same night, and on home soil, Leverkusen were also successful, but they were made to sweat by Real Sociedad, only securing a 2-1 win over the Liga side in the 92nd minute.
Domestically, Saturday's meeting at the BayArena represents third against second, with Leverkusen sitting just a point behind their visitors after a good start of their own.
Both sides are in the midst of fine runs in home league games, but each of their last defeats on home soil came against each other.
Sami Hyypia's men have won all of their home games, bar one, since a 2-1 reverse to the Bavarians in March. Philipp Wollscheid's own goal in the 87th minute did the damage on that day after Simon Rolfes had cancelled out Mario Gomez's opener.
The recent record between the sides is incredibly even. Bayern just shade the last 10 fixtures between them with four victories, but Leverkusen have three wins to their name and have only lost one of their last five home meetings with the champions.
Bayern are in ominous form ahead of the game, however. Guardiola has seen his side win each of their last six games, scoring 17 goals and conceding just twice.
While he may have had little to do in recent weeks, goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has urged focus from his side and demanded that they maintain their high standards as they look to keep pace with Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga table.
He told the club's official website: "It's important we don't now start thinking it'll all happen automatically. We have to keep it up."
Guardiola is without long-term absentees Thiago Alcantara and Holger Badstuber (both knee), but Javi Martinez could be back in the squad after groin surgery and Mario Gotze's comeback from an ankle knock is likely to continue after a substitute appearance against Manchester City.
Leverkusen's only potential doubt is Gonzalo Castro (hamstring).
Defensive midfielder Stefan Reinartz believes that the game provides the hosts with the perfect opportunity to test their title credentials.
"This game comes at a very, very good time for us," he said.
"Saturday provides us with a chance to see whether the tendency will be for us to look over our shoulders, or whether we can look forward to sustaining a three-horse race."