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Matchday 12 Preview: new leaders Bayer Leverkusen to try defending their position

Bayer Leverkusen

New leaders Bayer 04 Leverkusen will try to defend their position, defending champions FC Bayern München face a stern test, and Borussia Dortmund begins life after Lucien Favre in a busy round of midweek fixtures on Matchday 12 of the Bundesliga.

Midweek rounds of league action are rare in Germany, so much so that it is commonly referred to as an Englische Woche (English Week). This week’s one starts with an early evening kick-off on Tuesday, when Eintracht Frankfurt host a Borussia Mönchengladbachside only four points above them in the eighth. Eintracht has gone eight matches without a win -albeit drawing six -so they will be keen to get the better of Gladbach, who are still on a high after reaching the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

There are also three late kick-offs on Tuesday when much of the focus will be on Borussia Dortmund’s game away to SV Werder Bremen. The visitors parted ways with Favre following a 5-1 home defeat against VfB Stuttgart on Saturday when USA international Gio Reyna’s goal provided little consolation for last season’s runners-up.

Assistant coach Edin Terzic has replaced Swiss veteran Favre until the end of the season, and he’ll be hoping fifth-placed Dortmund can snap a three-game winless streak in his first match in charge. Bremen –with American Josh Sargent in their ranks –are not in great form either, having lost their last three to slip to 13th in the standings.

Also on Tuesday, Hertha Berlin –who drew at Gladbach following a derby victory over 1. FC Union Berlin –will seek to continue their climb towards the top half of the table. They host second-bottom 1. FSV Mainz 05, while promoted Stuttgart –currently seventh –will be out to make the most of home advantage and leapfrog visiting Union. Getting a third win on the spin will be easier said than done, however, since Union held Bayern to a 1-1 draw in the capital last Saturday.

Bayern was knocked off top spot as a result, and Hansi Flick’s reigning European champions next host Wolfsburg on Wednesday night. As usual, the Wolves must try to stop Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski, who got a league-high 13th goal of the campaign with an equaliser against Union. The prolific Pole famously scored five times in nine minutes during a 5-1 thrashing of Wolfsburg in September 2015 and has netted more Bundesliga goals against them –21 –than against any other side.

Wolfsburg, though, is one of only two unbeaten teams left in the German top flight, and their nine-goal forward Wout Weghorst lifted them to fourth by nabbing a double in last Friday’s success against Eintracht.

The other team yet to taste defeat in the league this season is Leverkusen. They have been in sensational shape under former Dortmund boss Peter Bosz, with Jamaican winger Leon Bailey scoring twice as they moved top thanks to a 4-1 home win over TSG Hoffenheim. The league leaders are away to 1. FC Köln on Wednesday, a side that is the fourth bottom but unbeaten in their last three matches after their victory in Mainz.

Just like second-placed Bayern, third-placed RB Leipzig has also qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League and are just one point behind Leverkusen in the Bundesliga. On Wednesday, they’ll be out to back up their 2-0 Matchday 11 victory over Bremen by picking up another three points away to midtable Hoffenheim.

Bottom club FC Schalke 04, meanwhile, are on a wretched 27-game winless run in the Bundesliga after being pegged back in injury-time during a 2-2 draw at FC Augsburg on Sunday. The Royal Blues are at home to fifth-bottom SC Freiburg in Wednesday evening’s early kick-off fixture, while later that night it will be 16th against 10th when promoted Arminia Bielefeld host FC Augsburg.

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