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Preview: Wolfsburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Bundesliga clash between Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen, including team news and predicted lineups.

Two of the Bundesliga's big hitters meet at the Volkswagen Arena on the opening weekend of the 2020-21 campaign as Wolfsburg play host to Bayer Leverkusen.

Wolfsburg finished seventh last season and have won-back-to-back games to begin this new campaign, while Leverkusen finished fifth last time out and will be aiming to go one better this term.


Match preview

Bayer Leverkusen manager Peter Bosz pictured in February 2019© Reuters

Leverkusen were left to rue their luck in June as they missed out on a Champions League spot to Borussia Monchengladbach despite registering 63 points - the first time in the three-points-per-win era where that tally has not been enough to finish at least fourth.

Peter Bosz's side now have to settle for the Europa League, which is also the case for opponents Wolfsburg after holding off Freiburg to seal a place in the second-qualifying round.

The Wolves made a positive start to their European adventure on Thursday by cruising to a 4-0 win over Albanian side Kukesi, with Wout Weghorst helping himself to a couple of goals either side of half time.

Wolfsburg will now play Desna Chernihiv in the next round, though Oliver Glasner will not be all that happy to have so many fixtures crammed into the first month of the new campaign.

Glasner's charges have also already brushed aside Union Furstenwalde in the first round of the DFB-Pokal, making it six wins in a row for them when taking friendlies into account.

Wolfsburg head coach Oliver Glasner pictured in March 2020© Reuters

All focus now is on this Bundesliga opener with Leverkusen - the third time the sides have met on matchday one, with this weekend's visitors claiming victory on both previous occasions.

Die Werkself have played just the one competitive game in 2020-21, overcoming Eintracht Norderstedt 7-0 in last week's DFB-Pokal opener, though their previous campaign stretched into August after reaching the Europa League quarter-finals.

A defeat to Inter Milan brought down the curtain on a positive season, but matching that success will be a lot tougher now that Kai Havertz and Kevin Volland have left for Chelsea and Monaco respectively.

Patrick Schick has been brought in and will be under a bit of pressure to hit the ground running as Leverkusen look to make a fast start to the season.

Bosz's side have won their last four away league meetings with Wolfsburg, most recently picking up a 2-0 win at the Volkswagen Arena last November.

Wolfsburg form (all competitions): WW

Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions): W


Team News

Wolfsburg striker Wout Weghorst pictured in October 2019© Reuters

Weghorst played a massive part in Wolfsburg's seventh-placed finish last season with his 20 goals - a tally bettered by just three other players in the division.

The Tottenham Hotspur-linked striker will lead the line for the hosts on Sunday, but Glasner will be without injured pair Kevin Mbabu and William.

Maxence Lacroix was brought in during the summer and is expected to start alongside John Brooks in central defence.

As for Leverkusen, Schick impressed on loan with RB Leipzig last season and will almost certainly lead the line this weekend.

Florian Wirtz, tipped to fill the void left by Havertz, will provide support from attacking midfielder alongside Moussa Diaby.

Elsewhere, Paulinho is a major doubt and Leon Bailey is lacking match fitness, so neither player is expected to start this opener.

Wolfsburg possible starting lineup:
Casteels; Klaus, Lacroix, Brooks, Otavio; Schlager, Arnold; Steffen, Mehmedi, Brekalo; Weghorst

Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; L. Bender, S. Bender, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven; Wirtz, Aranguiz, Demirbay; Amiri, Schick, Diaby


SM words green background

We say: Wolfsburg 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Wolfsburg beat Leverkusen 4-1 towards the end of last season, but that is just one of two victories for the Wolves in their last nine Bundesliga meetings with this weekend's opponents.

Leverkusen may have sold a couple of important players during the summer but they still have plenty of talent in their ranks.

That, combined with the fact Wolfsburg had a game in midweek, means we are backing the visitors to win this one.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data

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Kai Havertz during Leverkusen training on August 5, 2020
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Bayern MunichBayern13101242132931
2Borussia DortmundDortmund13100333191430
3Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen1373328181024
4Union BerlinUnion Berlin146532220223
5Freiburg136431913622
6Hoffenheim136252720720
7Wolfsburg136251517-220
8RB Leipzig145362518718
9Mainz 05135351714318
10FC Koln134632222018
11Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach135351818018
12Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt134631617-118
13VfL BochumVfL Bochum135171220-816
14Hertha Berlin134271327-1414
15Stuttgart133461823-513
16Augsburg133461222-1013
17Arminia Bielefeld13166919-109
18Greuther Furth1301121139-281

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