1.Bundesliga Matchweek 9 preview: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin (Sun 15:30h. CET) - Team news, lineups

Bayer Leverkusen take on Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga on Sunday with the hosts looking to extend their winning run to an impressive six matches.

Hertha, meanwhile, are only three points ahead of the relegation places having slid to 13th in the table.

After narrowly missing out on a Champions League qualification position last season, things are looking more optimistic for Leverkusen this season after a hugely impressive start to the campaign.

Last weekend's 2-1 win at Arminia Bielefeld has taken them to third in the table, just one point behind leaders Bayern Munich. However, Peter Bosz was relieved to leave Bielefeld with three points in the end, after a bizarre Lukas Hradecky own goal almost cost them a deserved victory.

Leverkusen played the match in their usual patient, controlled style under the tutelage of Bosz, with Julian Baumgartlinger pulling the strings from deep. The Austrian midfielder found Leon Bailey between the lines, with the winger brilliantly combining with Florian Wirtz before firing past Stefan Ortega at the near post to give his side the lead.

However, despite not having a shot in the entire match, Arminia almost grabbed the most unlikely of draws via Hradecky's moment of madness. Attempting to clear Daley Sinkgraven's backpass, the ball appeared to take a small touch off his standing foot, with the Finland goalkeeper slicing the ball into his own net. Thankfully, for him and his team, Hradecky's blushes were spared - and Arminia hearts sunken - by Aleksandar Dragovic's 88th-minute winner.

After thrashing Hapoel Be'er Sheva 4-1 in the Europa League in midweek, with Patrik Schick scoring on his first start since September, the mood must be very high at Leverkusen right now with qualification for the knockout stages all but secured and a top-four finish very much in sight even at this early stage of proceedings.

Hertha, however, are performing below expectations having gained less than one point per game so far this season.

Last weekend's 5-2 defeat at home to Borussia Dortmund summed up their season, having led at the break but never looked like preventing BVB from scoring. Indeed, only six teams have scored more goals than Bruno Labbadia's side, but only three have conceded more, and that is the primary reason for their relative struggles.

Matheus Cunha certainly isn't one of them, though, with the Brazilian forward registering a brace against former Hertha manager Lucien Favre's BVB side to extend his league tally to six for the season. Cunha's opener was a magnificent curling effort from distance which left Roman Burki no chance.

Ultimately, however, Hertha were undone by the brilliance of Erling Braut Haaland, with the Norway striker scoring four goals in the second half to take the game away from the hosts. Hertha will not be the first side to be undone by the superb physicality and finishing of the Golden Boy award winner, but Labaddia's side must defend better against Leverkusen if they are to avoid a fifth defeat in seven matches.

Bayer Leverkusen Bundesliga form: DWWWWW
Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions): LWWWWW

Hertha Berlin Bundesliga form: LLLDWL

Team News

Leverkusen were dealt a huge blow with key central defender Edmond Tapsoba testing positive for coronavirus last week, so Jonathan Tah and Sven Bender are likely to continue at the heart of Bosz's defence.

Exequiel Palacios (back), Charles Aranguiz (muscular), Paulinho (knee) and Santiago Arias (fibula) all remain on the treatment table for the hosts, with Schick likely to appear from the bench once again as he aims to oust the in-form Lucas Alario out of Leverkusen's starting XI.

Summer signing Jhon Cordoba is unlikely to return to first-team action for Hertha until the New Year after sustaining a ligament injury at Augsburg earlier this month.

Otherwise, though, Labaddia appears to have a clean bill of health to choose from, with changes possible after the collapse against Dortmund last time out.

Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; L Bender, Tah, S Bender, Sinkgraven; Wirtz, Baumgartlinger, Amiri; Bailey, Alario, Diaby

Hertha Berlin possible starting lineup:
Schwolow; Pekarik, Boyata, Alderete, Plattenhardt; Darida, Stark, Guendouzi, Cunha; Lukebakio, Piatek

Source: Sports Mole / Brett Curtis 

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