Berlin (AFP) – Bayer Leverkusen head to runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday with their forwards, in particular young Frenchman Moussa Diaby, in red-hot goalscoring form.
The 22-year-old has netted seven goals in his last five games, helping Leverkusen score 21 times in their past six league matches.
Bayern hold an eight-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund and appear set to continue their total dominance of German football with a 10th straight league title.
But third-placed Leverkusen’s front line, consisting of Diaby, teenager Florian Wirtz and Patrik Schick, have drawn plenty of admirers this season.
The trio have scored 45 goals between them this campaign and Diaby has been the leading light in recent weeks.
He scored a double last weekend in a 3-0 win over Arminia Bielefeld, after goals against Stuttgart and Dortmund and a hat-trick against Augsburg since the winter break.
“He (Diaby) demands more of himself,” said defender Jonathan Tah. “He’s doing great now and he deserves to hear the fans shouting his name.”
Coach Gerardo Seoane said: “He is very committed and is very focused. In the last few weeks Diaby has found a better mix between passing in the final third and pushing into the box alone.”
Bayern enjoyed a thumping 5-1 win when the sides met in October, but Leverkusen are on a run of five wins in six matches, including a brilliant 5-2 victory at Dortmund.
That has given them a four-point cushion over fifth-placed Freiburg in the race for a top-four spot and Champions League qualification.
“We have nothing to lose,” said Leverkusen captain Lukas Hradecky. “We have good self-confidence and Moussa Diaby in top form.
“I am looking forward to a good game.”
There will be plenty of other firepower on the pitch this weekend, though, with the division’s two leading scorers going head-to-head in Robert Lewandowski and Schick.
Bayern’s Lewandowski, who broke the Bundesliga single-season scoring record last season, has netted 28 league goals this term, eight more than his Czech counterpart Schick.
Leverkusen will also be given hope by Bayern’s recent erratic form, after a shock 4-2 defeat at Bochum in mid-February and a hard-fought 1-0 win at out-of-form Eintracht Frankfurt last Saturday.
The Werkself pulled off a shock 2-1 win at the Allianz Arena back in November 2019, but Bayern have won all of the last five meetings.
It is the start of an important week for Leverkusen, who also face Atalanta in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie and host rivals Cologne in the next seven days.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga this weekend, Dortmund will be hoping to give their dwindling title hopes a boost at Mainz on Sunday, after Champions League chasers RB Leipzig and Freiburg go head-to-head on Saturday.
One to watch: Max Kruse
The veteran striker is set to play for Wolfsburg on Saturday against Union Berlin, the team he left in January after helping them challenge for the Champions League places.
The 33-year-old has scored one goal in his four games for Wolfsburg who have moved away from relegation trouble since his arrival.
“There are players who focus on training all week to perform at the weekend. I am not one of them,” Kruse, who has scored 91 goals in 292 Bundesliga games, told DAZN.
“It’s an exaggeration, but I could be out until three in the morning all week or eat pizza for lunch. Nothing would change.”
19: Wins for Leverkusen in 94 games against Bayern, with 59 defeats and 16 draws.
17: Goals Bayern have scored in winning all of their last five games against Leverkusen.
13: Matches Leverkusen went without keeping a clean sheet before Saturday’s 3-0 win over Bielefeld.
Fixtures (1430 GMT unless stated)
Arminia Bielefeld v Augsburg (1930)
Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen, RB Leipzig v Freiburg, VfL Wolfsburg v Union Berlin, Hertha Berlin v Eintracht Frankfurt, VfL Bochum v Greuther Fuerth, VfB Stuttgart v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1730)
Mainz v Borussia Dortmund, Cologne v Hoffenheim (1630)
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