Werder Bremen have had lots to think about during the Bundesliga's enforced break. Tobias Gourlay reckons Leverkusen will give them more food for thought in Monday night's clash at Weserstadion...
"Leverkusen are an impressive W13-D1-L6 on the road since Peter Bosz took the reins midway through last season"
Werder Bremen v Leverkusen
Monday May 18, 19:30
Watch it on Betfair Live Video & BT Sports
Bremen on the brink
Before the Bundesliga was suspended just over two months ago, Bayer Leverkusen were one of its form teams. In 2020, Peter Bosz's men are W6-D1-L1 in the league and W11-D1-L1 across all competitions.
While Leverkusen were stopped in their tracks by the shutdown, Werder Bremen were slowing to a standstill well before the pandemic took hold. Since mid-November, Florian Kohfeldt's River Islanders have lost 11/14 Bundesliga matches at home and away, making a first relegation since 1980 a distinct possibility. With 10 games to go (they do at least have a game in hand over their rivals) Bremen are eight points short of full safety and four points shy of a place in a relegation play-off.
If Kohfeldt hasn't found a way to stop the rot during isolation, we fancy Leverkusen - who won this fixture 6-2 last season - could run riot in this one. There are, of course, a couple of X factors to consider with this match - the long break since the teams' last outings, the absence of fans inside the stadium - but everything else points to an away win, so we'll take 7/10.
Wobbles at Weserstadion
At Weserstadion, the hosts are just W1-D2-L8 this season. Having lost each of the last six league games there, they are down to second bottom in the table, with a scoring record to match. Bremen have scored precisely no goals across their last five Bundesliga home games. Backing the visitors to Win To Nil at 9/4 on the Sportsbook might have some appeal, even if they've only managed five clean sheets in 20 away games under their current boss.
Bremen have not been much better at the other end, failing to keep a clean sheet all season and conceding at least twice in 9/11.
Leverkusen, who are up to fourth in the table right now and came home fifth last term, are an impressive W13-D1-L6 on the road since Bosz took the reins midway through last season. In 8/13 of those wins - including 4/7 in the current campaign - the margin of victory was at least a couple of goals. We like the 15/8 about Leverkusen -1.0 on the Sportsbook's Handicap Match Result market.
If you like to go a little deeper into the history books, Opta has also found that Leverkusen have scored more away goals against Bremen (62) than against any other side. With them currently in such potent form, it's no surprise to see Over 2.5 Goals trading at around [1.75]. Indeed, 15/20 of Leverkusen's away matches have gone that way under Bosz, but Bremen's scoring form is woeful enough to make that price look fair, rather than fantastic.
No Volland, no problem
Leverkusen go into this match without Kevin Volland, who was their top-scorer before tearing ankle ligaments in February. Bayer haven't missed a beat without him: across all competitions, they've struck 16 times in the six matches since he was stretchered off, with young Kai Havertz stepping up in particular. The 20-year-old recently became the youngest player ever to score 30 Bundesliga goals and is one to watch in the Goalscorer markets.
Bremen, meanwhile, have significant injury problems of their own. Goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka might have recovered from some recent adductor issues, but striker Niclas Fullkrug is out for the season, while his 41-year-old partner Claudio Pizarro has been ruled out with a muscle injury, and midfielder Davy Klaassen is suspended. At the back, whoever's playing it's worth noting that Bremen have the Bundesliga's worst defence: 55 goals conceded in 24 games so far (26 in 11 at Weserstadion).
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Back Leverkusen @ [1.77]
Back Leverkusen -1.0 on the Handicap Match Result @ [2.80]