Werder Bremen vs Bayer LeverkusenGerman Bundesliga, KO: 19:30 May 18, 2020, Weserstadion
BAYER LEVERKUSEN were one of Europe's form teams before the big shutdown, sweeping aside opponents at home and abroad with some thrilling football.
The long break couldn't have come at the worst time for Peter Bosz and his players and just how much it has affected their rhythm will become clear when they return to Bundesliga action at Werder Bremen.
Two of my tips came up, with wonderkid Kai Havertz netting the opener from the spot on the way to a comfortable win that was sealed by a superb Leon Bailey strike two minutes from time.
That made it 12 wins in 14 games in all competitions for Leverkusen, the only blips a 1-1 draw at Leipzig and a 2-1 loss at Hoffenheim, and they sat just eight points behind leaders Bayern Munich going into lockdown.
If they can repeat that form in the final nine games then a title challenge could be on the cards, especially with Bayern still to visit Leverkusen, but the first match back could be a tricky one.
Werder Bremen are desperate for points as they sit second bottom, eight points adrift of guaranteed safety with a game in hand. It's 40 years since they last dropped out of the Bundesliga and fallen giants Bremen will be keen to avoid the ignominy of relegation.
But Werder's form stands in stark contrast to that of Leverkusen, winning just two of their last 13 games, with 10 of those matches ending in defeat.
How the bookies view it
Given the form of both clubs before the shutdown, it's no surprise to see Leverkusen at a best 4/5 with Betway and Werder as big as 15/4 with Bet365. In these unusual circumstances, it's hard to rule out any result and the draw is 3/1 with BetVictor.
The bookies may regret pricing Bremen at such long odds but with no fans, it should come down to who has the better players and that's Leverkusen.
Recent head to head
Leverkusen strolled to a thumping 6-2 win on their last visit to Bremen in 2018 (below) but that's their only win over Werder in the last four meetings.
Werder won the reverse fixture 3-1 in Leverkusen that season while the other two games ended in draws. It was 2-2 when these sides faced off earlier in the season with Werder coming from behind to lead before Lucas Alario salvaged a point for Bayer.
Players to watch
Wonderkid Havertz netted twice in that 6-2 on his last trip to Bremen and also came up trumps for me when I backed him to score against Rangers in Leverkusen's last game.
The hugely talented German international is 39/20 with 888Sport for a goal in this one and that's tempting, especially as he seems to be on penalty duties now.
Werder drew a blank in four of their last five games before the lockdown and have struggled for goals all season. But Kosovan forward Milot Rashica has managed to get into double figures for the campaign and looks their best bet for a strike. Rashica is 27/10 with 888Sport to find the net.
Anything else catches the eye?
With Werder struggling for goals it could be a smart investment to back a Leverkusen clean sheet at 7/4 with Bet365. But Bayer hasn't been particularly solid at the back, shutting out the opposition just four times on their impressive run of 12 wins in 14 games. So I'm more inclined to back both teams to score at 4/6 with Bet365.
Bremen: Pavlenka – Veljkovic, Vogt, Moisander (c) – Gebre Selassie, M. Eggestein, Sahin, Friedl – Bittencourt, Selke, Rashica
Out: Augustinsson (muscular), Klaassen (suspended), Pizarro (thigh)
Doubtful: Füllkrug (torn ACL), Möhwald (knee), Toprak (calf)
Coach: Florian Kohfeldt
Leverkusen: Hradecky – Tah, S. Bender, Tapsoba – L. Bender (c), Baumgartlinger, Aranguiz, Wendell – Bellarabi, Diaby – Havertz
Doubtful: Volland (foot)
Coach: Peter Bosz
This German Bundesliga match between Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen will be played on May 18, 2020 and kick off at 19:30. Check below for our tipsters best Werder Bremen vs Bayer Leverkusen prediction.