Union Berlin have performed far above expectations this season to occupy fifth place, with Leverkusen dropping to third in recent weeks after failing to win their last three league matches.
Having competed in the Bundesliga for the first time in the club's history last season, few people could have expected Union Berlin to have their sights set on a Champions League qualification spot this far into their second ever campaign at Germany's top level.
While a top-four place undoubtedly remains a long shot, everyone at Union Berlin may be dreaming of just that after amassing 25 points from the opening 15 games of the 2020-21 campaign. What has made their recent run all the more impressive is that they have remained unbeaten without their top goalscorer and talismanic figure Max Kruse in the last five league games.
However, there would have been a degree of disappointment in only securing a 2-2 draw at home against Wolfsburg on Saturday after the visitors were reduced to 10 men with 40 minutes of normal time remaining. Renato Steffen fired the Wolves into an early lead with a header which Andreas Luthe may have been disappointed not to keep out, with Sheraldo Becker levelling proceedings with a powerful strike to redeem himself after missing an open goal in the early exchanges.
The game was there for the taking for Union Berlin, though, after Maximilian Arnold's professional foul on Liverpool loanee Taiwo Awoniyi allowed Robert Andrich to score for the fourth home game running from the resulting free kick and provide his side with a one-goal and one-man advantage.
However, Wout Weghorst salvaged a hugely creditable point for his side from the penalty spot after Marcus Ingvarsten was adjudged to have handled the ball, with Fischer's side squandering the opportunity to move clear of Wolfsburg on points and move a step closer to the top four. A win against Leverkusen on Friday night would be the fastest route to overcoming the bitter taste left in their mouth from last weekend.
Leverkusen will certainly be more nervous about their trip to Berlin now than they would have been prior to the winter break, with Peter Bosz's side dropping eight points in their last three games.
Having narrowly lost to Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt, last weekend's home game against a Werder Bremen side without a league win since September represented an almost perfect opportunity for Bosz's side to get their season back on track.
However, Leverkusen produced an extremely flat performance, with their former defender Omar Toprak punishing them early in the second half with a close-range finish from an in-swinging free kick. Patrik Schick managed to bundle the ball home to level proceedings with 20 minutes remaining, but his side never came close to finding a winning breakthrough with the game finishing 1-1.
Die Werkself must perform much better if they are to stand much chance of beating an in-form Union Berlin side, and subsequently keeping themselves in a title picture which could be more realistic for Bayern's challengers this season given the Bavarians' struggles of late.
Union Berlin Bundesliga form: LDDWWD
Union Berlin form (all competitions): DDWLWD
Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form: WWWLLD
Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions): WWWLLW
Grischa Promel is likely to return to the starting XI having missed the draw with Wolfsburg after picking up his fifth booking of the season, with Christopher Trimmel one caution away from a one-match ban himself.
The trip to Berlin is likely to come too soon for Karim Bellarabi, Mitchell Weiser and Sven Bender, too, but Sven's brother Lars did appear from the bench in the draw with Bremen, so he is likely to return to the starting XI at right-back.
Union Berlin possible starting lineup:
Luthe; Friedrich, Knoche, Hubner; Trimmel, Promel, Andrich, Ingvarsten, Lenz; Becker, Awoniyi
Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; L.Bender, Tah, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven; Wirtz, Baumgartlinger, Amiri; Bailey, Schick, Diaby
We say: Union Berlin 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen
We can envisage a second successive draw for both teams, which would be unlikely to disappoint either manager given the defensive solidity and offensive threat both teams offer at their best.
Bosz is unlikely to open his side up too much given the counter-attacking threat of Becker and Awoniyi, but will still be keen to help create as many chances for the in-form Schick as possible.