Bayer Leverkusen are looking for a morale-boosting win after recording three straight defeats in all competitions and the game against Genk looks like a perfect opportunity to return to winning ways. The Belgian side held Valencia to a goalless draw in their opening group game, and are hoping for another positive result.
Tough times for Robin Dutt
Despite the departure of coach Jupp Heynckess and key midfielder Arturo Vidal, Bayer Leverkusen enjoyed a bright start to the season, hinting that they would again be fighting for domestic and European honours. However, die Werkself have recently suffered a big dip in form, losing three straight games in all competitions, giving their fans a lot of reason for concern. It looks as though the numerous selection problems took the wind out of their sails and this will be a perfect opportunity for Bayer to kick-start their season with a convincing victory. In spite of the poor run of results, the hosts have reason for optimism as several key players are set to return to the starting line-up, which will be a much needed boost. In addition to that, the German side are far superior to Genk in terms of quality, experience and tactical awareness, so Bayer do look more than capable of recording a comfortable win in this clash.
Andre Schurrle and Michal Kadlec return from domestic suspensions, whereas Michael Ballack and Daniel Schwaab are also available. Rene Adler and Tranquillo Barnetta remain long-term worries.
An unknown quantity
Genk did well to eliminate Partizan Belgrade and Maccabi Haifa to reach the Champions League group stages, but the Belgian champions did little to prove they have what it takes to play at this level. The standard of their performances in all those games was pretty poor, so I was really surprised to see them pick up one point against very good Valencia side. Genk have since recorded convincing victories over Standard Liege and minnows Deinze, while sharing spoils with lowly Leuven in their last league game. Having watched them a couple of times this season, I have to say there is a big gulf in class between Bayer Leverkusen and Genk, which is likely to be on display at Bay Arena. Coach Mario Been will try to upset the hosts by adopting a defence-minded approach, but his shaky defence will have their work cut out for them against players like Sam, Derdiyok, Kiessling and Augusto.
Key midfielder Kevin De Bryne is still lacking match fitness and is likely to start on the bench, but all other players are fit to feature.
Bayer Leverkusen have got more potential than they are showing at the moment and with Ballack, Schurrle and Kadlec back to the side, they should look much better against Genk. The Belgians did hold Valencia to a goalless draw, but they don’t look capable of producing another upset, not at Bay Arena.
Our prediction: Bayer Leverkusen with -1.5 Asian handicap
Odds: 2.02 (51/50)