The 2017/2018 Bundesliga campaign resumes on Friday as fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen play host to leaders Bayern Munich.
With both sides ending the 2017 in style, we expect to see an entertaining encounter and quite a few goals at Bay Arena.
While they had long been Germany’s third best side, Bayer Leverkusen experienced plenty of problems in recent years, but they appear to be on the road to recovery.
Die Werkself have done pretty well this term, finishing the first part of the league campaign in fourth place, albeit level on points with Borussia Dortmund (3rd), RB Leipzig (5th) and Borussia M’gladbach (6th).
This is enough to suggest that the race for remaining three Champions League berths will go to the wire, and Bayer Leverkusen will have to continue the rich vein of form in order to achieve a top 4 finish.
Die Werkself had impressed ahead of the winter break, recording 5 wins and 4 draws in last nine league fixtures, but their 12-match unbeaten run in the league will be put to a serious test on Friday.
Head coach Heiko Herrlich will probably opt for a three-man defence, while Kai Havertz is likely to be preferred to Julian Brandt and Karim Bellarabi.
Probable starting line-up (3-4-2-1): Leno – Tah, S. Bender, Retsos – L. Bender, Korh, Aranguiz, Wendell – Havertz, Bailey – Volland.
This season did not start well for Bayern Munich, who experienced some problems early on, but they have shown tremendous improvement since Jupp Heynckes returned to the dugout.
The Bavarians impressed to win all but one game under the new boss, and they head into the second part of the league campaign with an 11-point cushion at the Bundesliga summit.
Despite finishing second in their Champions League group, Bayern Munich were handed a good draw as they will be vying Besiktas for a place in the last eight, so they clearly have a good chance of making the most of this season.
The Bavarians did well to win four of their last five league fixtures on the road, losing only to Borussia M’gladbach and they are 1.83 (5/6) to win at Bay Arena.
Mats Hummels, Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski and Thiago Alcantara continue to miss out, whilst January recruit Sandro Wagner is expected to start up front.
Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Ulreich – Kimmich, Boateng, Sule, Alaba – Muller, Martinez, Vidal – Robben, Wagner, Ribery.