Schalke v Bayer Leverkusen: Die Werkself can extend Wagner's woes
Beleaguered Schalke host high-flying Leverkusen on Sunday evening. Mark O'Haire shares his views on the Bundesliga encounter...
Schalke v Bayer Leverkusen Sunday June 14, 17:00 BT Sport and Betfair Live Video
Schalke extend bleak winless record
Schalke last weekend managed to halt a four-match losing streak since the resumption of Bundesliga action but Die Konigsblauen were yet again streets below expectations as they pinched a point during a 1-1 draw at struggling Union Berlin. David Wagner's troops offered precious little in attack with their own goal under siege for much of the opening 45 minutes.
Jonjoe Kenny's eye-catching strike from distance gave Schalke an undeserved share of the spoils as Die Knappen equalled an unwanted all-time club record by failing to achieve top honours in their past 12 Bundesliga outings (W0-D5-L7). Returning goalkeeper Alexander Nubel was called into a host of saves to keep Wagner's outfit alive in the capital contest.
Young Welsh forward Rabbi Matondo was one of Schalke's rare bright lights in Berlin and should keep his place in the starting XI for Sunday with key midfielder Weston McKennie back from a ban. The American's presence in midfield should allow centre-back-by-trade Salif Sane to return to his accustomed position after a failed experiment in holding midfield.
Leverkusen book cup final place
Bayer Leverkusen begin Sunday outside of the Champions League qualification places after suffering two league defeats in three, although Die Werkself did book their place in the DFB Pokal in midweek with a cushy 3-0 thumping of fourth-tier Saarbrucken. Moussa Diaby, Lucas Alario and Karim Bellarabi grabbed the all-important goals for Peter Bocz's troops.
Bocz is expected to have prodigious midfielder-turned-striker Kai Havertz back in the fold for this weekend's match-up after the in-demand 21-year-old missed the cup clash, as well as Bayer's 4-2 defeat to Bayern Munich last weekend. Leading the line in recent weeks, he could drop deeper or wider to accommodate the returning Kevin Volland or Alario.
However, with nine of Havertz's 11 goals coming since the turn of the year, it's anticipated the Leverkusen skipper will continue in his fruitful new role. Elsewhere, Bellarabi has been ruled out meaning the Bundesliga's youngest-ever goalscorer Florian Wirtz could again feature from the off with out-of-form Leon Bailey also in contention for a starting berth.
Wagner's woes to continue
Leverkusen boast an excellent record at Schalke, last losing in Gelsenkirchen back in 2013. Die Werkself have picked up four wins and a draw in their following five trips and have only enjoyed more Bundesliga victories on their travels at Stuttgart (17) than they have at Schalke (13). The visitors picked up a 2-1 triumph when the duo met in the reverse fixture.
Schalke5.90 have equalled a club record winless run from 1993 (W0-D5-L7) and are in the midst of their worst Rückrunde return in history (W1-D5-L7). Since the restart, the hosts have generated an average of just 0.24 Expected Goals (xG) from open play, earned a solitary point and scored just two goals across five fixtures - all of which are league lows.
Leverkusen1.58 have collected 28 points in 2020 (W9-D1-L3), a total that represents Die Werkself's second-best second half of the season in the club's Bundesliga history. Bayer take to the road having avoided defeat in their last five games as guests (W4-D1-L0), tabling 10 triumphs on their travels this term - only Bayern Munich boast a better away record.
Leverkusen to pile on the pain
With Schalke offering next to nothing in attacking areas and sorely missing the influence of creative outlets Amine Harit and Suat Serdar, it's no surprise to see a clutch of contests featuring few goals when Die Knappen are involved. However, with 14 goals shipped in their last three meetings with Bayern Munich, Dortmund and RB Leipzig, the hosts are far from watertight.
Leverkusen have broken the Over 2.5 Goals 1.77 barrier in all bar three of their 13 league encounters since Christmas, notching twice or more themselves on 10 occasions. Die Werkself should be well capable of extending their hot streak in front of goal on Sunday and so siding with the visitors alongside Over 1.5 Goals is advised at 1.83 via Betfair Sportsbook.