Both Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen have posted form to forget in recent times. Despite sitting comfortably in fifth and second respectively, the pair of struggling teams have racked up just five points across an equal share of eight games.
Leverkusen, who remain 13 points behind Bayern Munich at the top, have won once in their last four outings. Losses to Frankfurt, Werder Bremen and Freiburg were recently overcome with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Stuttgart, keeping Sami Hyypia's side four points ahead of Borussia Dortmund in third.
Monchengladbach have failed to win any of their last four games, recording draws against Mainz and Wolfsburg, before losing to Bayern and a resurgent Hannover. If Lucien Favre's team want to break into the top four, a win against their local rivals will go a long way.
When: Friday, Feb. 7
Where: Borussia-Park, Gladbach, Germany
Time (U.S.): 2:30 p.m. ET
Time (U.K.): 7:30 p.m. GMT
Watch (U.K.): BT Sport 2
Live Stream: BT Sport app
Odds (via Skybet): Monchengladbach (13-8), Leverkusen (13-8), Draw (12-5)
Top Storyline: Can Monchengladbach Kick-Start Their Season With a Win?
Monchengladbach have suffered a difficult recent run of fixtures, but there's no denying Favre's men need to continue picking up points if they are to qualify for European football next season.
The recent draw with Wolfsburg highlighted a team that has character and the ability to switch off within 90 minutes. Although Raffael and Juan Arango's strikes should have confirmed the win, Bas Dost's late equaliser ensured Monchengladbach are just three points off dropping away from the top six.
Leverkusen finally showed spirit to overcome an improving Stuttgart side at the BayArena. Eren Derdiyok's simple winner was his first goal in 15 months and certainly a welcome sight amongst fans. The Swiss forward spoke of his joy, as reported by the Bundesliga's official website:
I'm immensely relieved. The last six months have certainly been hard. I scored my last goal in 2012. It was important for me that, after getting knocked down, I got back up again.
The team and the club have helped me back onto my feet. It may have taken a bit of time, but during the preparation for the second half of the season, I was able to send out a signal that I'm back.
While Derdiyok is unlikely to start the upcoming fixture, he may have an important role to play from the bench. Should he arrive with confidence, Monchengladbach may find it difficult to escape their rut, such is the goalscoring power of Leverkusen when in full flow.
Prediction: Monchengladbach 1-2 Leverkusen
A double from Sidney Sam, plus strikes from Stefan Kiessling and Gonzalo Castro sunk Monchengladbach 4-2 back in August. It was a match that saw the BayArena lit up with free-flowing, attack-minded football, something Favre's team found difficult to live with.
Recent form suggests both sides will find it difficult to establish much rhythm throughout the upcoming encounter.
Leverkusen will look to gain momentum after the Stuttgart result and possess players who are regaining their confidence. Sam, who grabbed an assist on his return from injury during the last bout, has the ability to decide the result. Whether or not Hyypia utilises the versatile attacking midfield right from the off remains to be seen.
Monchengladbach have won eight of their 10 home games this season, conceding an average of 0.8 goals per match, via WhoScored.com. Leverkusen's away form has been mixed, with five wins from nine, but the season's form book has been called into question since the winter break ended. Hyypia's outfit net an average of 1.38 goals on the road, suggesting this is going to be a tight one.
This fixture will be decided by the team that plays on the front foot. While both sides have suffered indifferent form, Leverkusen can see the light after their most recent three points and should have enough to see off Favre's recent strugglers.
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