Bayer Leverkusen will host Borussia Dortmund in a clash of Bundesliga titans at the BayArena on Saturday, highlighting another matchday of glorious top-level German football.
The hosts will be looking for all three points as they attempt to keep hold of the Bundesliga's final UEFA Champions League ticket amid a late run from Wolfsburg, but Die Borussen are winners of five straight and need to keep an eye on Schalke 04 themselves, so plenty of fireworks are expected.
Date: Saturday, April 26
Time: 5.30 p.m. BST/12:30 p.m. ET
Champions League Chase
With the Bundesliga title race officially over, all eyes are on the race for the final ticket into Europe next season.
Bayer Leverkusen currently hold down the fourth spot and will qualify for the Champions League qualifying rounds if they manage to fight off Wolfsburg, who seem to be finding their stride at just the right time and currently trail Bayer by just a single point.
The Wolves invested heavily during the winter transfer window and have finally started putting together some results, winning four of their last five matches. With just three games left to play and Wolfsburg facing a very winnable tie against Freiburg, Leverkusen simply can't afford to lose at this stage of the competition.
But Dortmund won't be gifting Bayer anything in this match, as the Schwarzgelben could clinch a second-placed finish with a single point at the BayArena. And as shared by Sandra Goldschmidt, recent history indicates the team should be in good shape to do so:
Bayer Leverkusen have failed to win any of their last six home matches against Borussia Dortmund (D3, L3) #BVB— Sandra Goldschmidt (@SanBorussia) April 24, 2014
The hosts have been in a steady decline since January, resulting in the sacking of manager Sami Hyypia earlier this month, as reported by The Guardian.
Sascha Lewandowski took over the reins from the former Liverpool star and has led the club to two consecutive wins, staking his claim for the position of permanent manager.
Team CEO Michael Schade plans to do no such thing, however, per Bundesliga Spotlight:
Leverkusen CEO Michael Schade says Sascha Lewandowski won't get manager's job on permanent basis & will return to junior level. #B04— Bundesliga Spotlight (@BundesligaSpot) April 23, 2014
A big win over Borussia Dortmund could perhaps persuade Schade to change his mind.
The visitors will be looking for a statement win amid speculation manager Jurgen Klopp could be very high on Manchester United's list of potential candidates to replace David Moyes, and while Borussia have been adamant their coach is going nowhere, neither will said rumours.
Manchester Evening News' Stuart Mathieson understands the Red Devils are refusing to rule out any names for the vacancy, despite Klopp and Bayern boss Pep Guardiola publicly declaring their allegiance to their respective clubs:
MEN Sport understands the Reds will not give up on any potential targets yet – despite Borussia Dortmund’s double Bundesliga winner Jurgen Klopp and Bayern Munich’s two-time Champions League winner Pep Guardiola already publicly ruling themselves out of the running.
Klopp has said his bond with Dortmund is ‘unbreakable’ while Guardiola insisted this week: “I want to stay (at Bayern) for two more years.”
However, as United chief executive Ed Woodward and the club’s owners, the Glazer family, work through their shortlist for the job, they will make serious overtures to any target they deem right – even if they are currently employed or have inferred they are out of the running.
However, Bleacher Report's Cristian Nyari doesn't see the in-demand Klopp leaving the club anytime soon:
Unlike other managers and clubs that experience or enact change often, Klopp and Dortmund's situation is quite unique, and it will be hard to imagine them being separated.
Klopp and Dortmund are a perfect match, a football-mad city and a scholar of the game with an almost boyish idealism and energy. They were almost made for each other, and it is hard to imagine these perfect circumstances coming together at any other club.
Klopp told Raphael Honigstein of The Guardian his commitment to the club is "not breakable," and his players could add to that message with a big win over Leverkusen on Saturday.
Both teams still have everything to play for as the season nears its end, and with the German Cup final still more than three weeks removed, it is unlikely Klopp will be resting too many of his starters.
Leverkusen have looked far better under Lewandowski, who seems to have injected the club with a jolt of energy in his short spell in charge, but he is yet to face a foe as formidable as Klopp and his Dortmund side. The visitors will be favourites going into this match, and should be able to handle Bayer rather easily.