Augsburg, Leverkusen tangle in top-six battle
- Updated: February 20, 2015
Augsburg, Germany (SportsNetwork.com) - Bayer Leverkusen hits the road to face Augsburg on Saturday in a clash of Champions League contenders, with the two sides separated by only two points.
Both teams are coming off one-goal defeats and will be eager to return to the win column in an effort to gain ground on fourth-place Schalke, which leads Augsburg on goal difference and sits two points clear of Leverkusen.
Augsburg has taken only one point from its last two games after a three-game winning streak and the club lost 3-2 last time out at Werder Bremen after giving away three goals in the opening half.
Leverkusen endured an equally poor first half in a wild 5-4 defeat at home to Wolfsburg as the club fell behind 3-0 in the opening 30 minutes, only to rally and level the match at 4-4 before a goal from Bas Dost in the 90th minute won the game for Wolfsburg.
Manager Roger Schmidt brought on a trio of players who helped swing the match in Leverkusen's favor against Wolfsburg, and the boss will have to consider using them from the start against Augsburg.
Simon Rolfes, Josip Drmic and Julian Brandt each helped contribute to the comeback, and all three should be in contention for Saturday's important match.
Schalke had a five-game unbeaten streak snapped last weekend in a 1-0 defeat at Eintracht and the club hosts a Werder Bremen side that has won its last five games in league play.
Leaders Bayern Munich hammered Hamburg, 8-0, last weekend, and after a 0-0 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League in midweek, Pep Guardiola's team will be looking to get back on the scoreboard at Paderborn, which owns only one win from its last 11 games.
Second-place Wolfsburg sits eight points adrift of Bayern and hosts second- from-the-bottom Hertha Berlin with the visitors having lost four of their last five fixtures.
Third-place Monchengladbach visits reeling Hamburg, Freiburg is one point from safety and hosts Hoffenheim, Mainz squares off with Eintracht and Hannover invades Cologne.
On Friday, Borussia Dortmund held off Stuttgart, 3-2, to move four points above the relegation places.
Goals from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ilkay Gundogan helped Dortmund to a 2-1 halftime lead, while Marco Reus made it 3-1 in the 89th before a late consolation goal from Stuttgart's Georg Niedermaier.