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Koln logo
Bundesliga | Gameweek 24
Mar 3, 2024 at 2.30pm UK
Leverkusen logo

FC Koln
0 - 2
B. Leverkusen

Ljubicic (16'), Martel (30')
Thielmann (14')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Frimpong (37'), Grimaldo (73')
Frimpong (23'), Stanisic (59')

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

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Bundesliga clash between FC Koln and Bayer Leverkusen, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen travel to the RheinEnergieStadion to face rivals FC Koln in a Rhineland derby on Sunday.

Xabi Alonso's record-breakers made it 33 games unbeaten last weekend, beating Bayern Munich's previous best of 32, and they are big favourites again even if form does go out of the window for a local derby.

Match preview

Bayer Leverkusen's Victor Boniface celebrates scoring their fourth goal with teammates Jonas Hofmann and Jeremie Frimpong on December 20, 2024© Reuters

Leverkusen's title credentials were put to the test last weekend, and they were forced to win ugly against relegation-favourites Mainz, edging past the side second-from-bottom 2-1.

It extended their fairytale unbeaten run which makes it even more likely that the 'Eternal Bridesmaids' may eventually get their moment in the spotlight.

Another feat is within reach this weekend, as they could match a club-record league unbeaten run by going 24 without defeat, as they did in 2009-10; on that occasion, rather peculiarly, their opponents in the 24th game of that run were also Koln.

Only Pep Guardiola's Bayern side have amassed more points at this stage of a Bundesliga campaign than Leverkusen's 61 from 23 games, as Die Werkself are now just 12 points shy of matching their best-ever points total, set back in 1999-00.

With an eight-point gap on Bayern heading into the weekend, no side has ever been caught with such a margin with 11 games to play in the three-point-per-win era, once more stacking the odds in their favour.

Koln have proven difficult opponents in the past though, as they have only completed a league double over their local rivals once in 11 seasons - back in 2020-21.

This is a season like no other though, given Leverkusen's record of 29 wins and four draws from their 33 games in all competitions this season.

FC Koln's Julian Chabot looks dejected after Kaiserslautern's Marlon Ritter scored their third goal on October 31, 2023© Reuters

A good omen is that Leverkusen beat Koln 3-0 at home that season, as well as 4-0 here at the RheinEnergieStadion, and the reverse fixture earlier this season ended in a 3-0 victory for Alonso's men.

Koln were impressive last weekend in holding third-placed Stuttgart to a 1-1 draw, but they remain rooted in deep trouble along with Mainz and Darmstadt in the bottom three.

The Billy Goats are still in pole position to get a reprieve in the relegation playoff as they currently sit 16th, but they are showing very little signs of catching the sides above them.

An eight-point gap to the four sides level above them looks insurmountable, and no side in the Bundesliga has survived automatically from such a deficit at this stage in over a decade.

Prospects look even more unlikely when it is considered Koln have won just three games all season, and they came against 10-man Borussia Monchengladbach, nine-man Eintracht Frankfurt, and bottom-of-the-table Darmstadt.

FC Koln Bundesliga form:

Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form:

Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions):

Team News

Bayer Leverkusen's Victor Boniface celebrates scoring their first goal on December 6, 2023© Reuters

Koln manager Timo Schultz will be able to welcome back Timo Hubers after illness, while Davie Selke could also make a return, but not from the start, after recovering from a broken foot.

Attacking duo Luca Waldschmidt and Mark Uth are absent though, as serious injury has ruled both of them out for the rest of the season.

Leverkusen have been handed a huge boost, as influential midfielder Exequiel Palacios is back in the squad for this one after a brief absence.

The fixture will come too soon for both Victor Boniface and Artur though, as the pair continue to train on their recovery from injury.

FC Koln possible starting lineup:
Schwabe; Carstensen, Chabot, Hubers, Finkgrafe; Huseinbasic, Martel, Kainz; Ljubicic, Thielmann, Maina

Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Kossounou, Tah, Hincapie; Frimpong, Andrich, Xhaka, Grimaldo; Adli, Schick, Wirtz

SM words green background

We say: FC Koln 0-3 Bayer Leverkusen

Nothing can stop Leverkusen at the moment, as even when they are off-colour they are still picking up results, as they did against Mainz last time out, and another win is on the cards.

Koln have not beaten a side at the top of the Bundesliga in their last 23 attempts, and they have shown little signs of changing that heading into this one, despite a respectable draw last weekend.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso before the match on January 13, 2024
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rhs 2.0
Today's games header
Tables header RHS
CBayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen29254074195579
2Bayern MunichBayern30213687375066
4RB Leipzig30185769343559
5Borussia DortmundDortmund29168557342356
6Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt30111274640645
11Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach30710135360-731
12Werder Bremen2987143649-1331
14Union BerlinUnion Berlin3085172650-2429
15VfL BochumVfL Bochum30512133460-2627
16Mainz 05Mainz29511133047-1726
17FC Koln30410162353-3022
18SV Darmstadt 98Darmstadt3038193072-4217

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