Two sides hoping to achieve Champions League qualification will face off on the opening weekend of the Bundesliga season with Bayer Leverkusen set to play host to RB Leipzig.
|Xabi Alonso||Bayer 04 Leverkusen|
After taking over the reins in October, Xabi Alonso made a real impact at the BayArena, leading his Leverkusen side from the relegation zone to sixth place. The Spaniard also oversaw an impressive run to the Europa League semi-finals, before Leverkusen’s hopes of claiming silverware were ended by Roma.
There have been several departures over the summer, most notably French winger Moussa Diaby, who has joined his former Leverkusen teammate Leon Bailey at Aston Villa. There have been a number of arrivals, including Álex Grimaldo, Granit Xhaka, Jonas Hofmann and Victor Boniface.
Having strengthen their squad ahead of the new Bundesliga campaign, die Werkself will be targeting a top-four finish this season. They warmed up for Saturday’s contest with an impressive 8-0 victory over fifth-tier Teutonia Ottensen to ease into the second round of the Pokal.
Leipzig will certainly present Alonso’s side with a much stiffer test, but they will draw inspiration from the 2-0 victory they recorded in their most recent meeting with die Roten Bullen in April.
Sardar Azmoun and Patrik Schick are ruled out through injury, while Piero Hincapié and Amine Adli are suspended for the Bundesliga opener.
Leipzig would have been pleased with their efforts last season after retaining the DFB-Pokal and achieving a top-four finish for the fifth consecutive season. Since beating Eintracht Frankfurt in June’s Pokal final, Leipzig have experienced a considerable turnover in their playing squad.
Joško Gvardiol, Dominik Szoboszlai and Christopher Nkunku have all swapped the Bundesliga for the Premier League, forcing Leipzig to delve into the transfer market. Castello Lukeba, Christoph Baumgartner, Xavi Simons, Fábio Carvalho, Benjamin Šeško and Loïs Openda are among those that have arrived at the Red Bull Arena this summer.
Marco Rose’s side will head into Saturday’s Bundesliga opener in a confident mood after they spoil Harry Kane’s Bayern Munich arrival to win their first DFL-Supercup last weekend. Dani Olmo was the star of the show, netting a hat trick to guide Leipzig to a commanding 3-0 victory.
After winning their final five league games of last season, Leipzig will be hoping to pick up where they left off when they go head-to-head with Leverkusen on Saturday.
Peter Gulacsi, El Chadaille Bitshiabu and Amadou Haidara are ruled out for the trip to the BayArena, while there are doubts surrounding the availability of Caden Clark and Kevin Kampl.