- Bayer Leverkusen v Koln
- Friday May 5, 2023 14:30 ET
Both Koln and Leverkusen have plenty to play for in Friday’s Rhine Derby, but Leverkusen look a solid pick to emerge with three points.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the best-rated online sportsbooks it is clear that bettors favor the home team in this clash on Friday night. Bayer Leverkusen is the -157 favorite to win here, while the visiting team is the +420 underdog, and the draw is priced at between +310 and +327.
|Bayer Leverkusen v Koln|
Leverkusen Chasing Top Four
Success in the Europa League, where Leverkusen is through to the semi-finals, could yet rescue a disappointing season, but otherwise, the club will be hoping for a late-season surge to guarantee European soccer next season.
The good news for manager Xabi Alonso is that his team is hitting form as it chases a place in the top four, with only four games to go in the Bundesliga season. Leverkusen has won six of the last eight league games and has gone nine games unbeaten. That run of success included wins against Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig, which suggests that the team should fear no opponent in the closing weeks.
It goes into Friday evening’s game in sixth place in the table, which is a remarkable turnaround, considering that it was in 17th position when Alonso took over in early October, but it is still six points behind Leipzig and eight behind Freiburg.
Leverkusen’s current position would be enough to qualify for the Europa Conference League next season, but fifth would get it into the Europa League and fourth would mean the Champions League and given that all of its remaining four games are against bottom-half teams, there is a clear opportunity here.
Koln Not Yet Safe
After a strong start to the season, Koln has slipped back to a mid-table position, but a poor run of form in February and March means that it is not yet safe from a potential relegation threat.
Mid-table safety would still represent a decline from last season’s seventh-place finish, but for head coach Steffan Baumgart, it is infinitely preferable to being sucked into a desperate relegation battle in the closing weeks of the Bundesliga season.
Koln is not among the favorites for relegation, being seven points clear of Bochum, who occupy the last relegation spot. But with four games to go, safety is not yet mathematically certain and given that its final game of the season is against Bayern Munich, Koln does not want to be going into the last weekend needing to get a good result.
The weekend’s 1-0 defeat to Freiburg, though expected on overall form, has added to concerns and although there are easier games to come, against Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin, a draw or a win in this game would go a long way towards ensuring safety.
Bundesliga Betting Head-to-Head
Although this Rhine derby does not have the history of the Koln versus Borussia Monchengladbach rivalry, having begun in 1979, the proximity of the two cities means that it is always fiercely contested and the head-to-head record shows that Leverkusen has had the better of the contest.
Of the 69 matches played in the Bundesliga, Leverkusen has won 27, while 25 have been drawn and Koln has claimed victory on 17 occasions.
Leverkusen has won three of the last five games against Koln, including the reverse fixture in November this season, when goals from Nadiem Amiri and Moussa Diaby earned it a 2-1 win at the RheinEnergieStadion.
Bundesliga Betting Team News
The team news for Bayer Leverkusen is that four key players will be out for this game. Exequiel Palacios, Andrey Lunev, Charles Aranguiz and Patrik Schick are all sidelined with injuries, but there is some good news with the return of Nadiem Amiri, who missed the last game through suspension. He may return to the starting lineup, although Alonso may opt to put him on the bench rather than disrupt the front three of Florian Wirtz, Moussa Diaby and Adam Hlozek.
Koln is also missing some players for this crucial game, as Sebastian Andersson, Mark Uth and Florian Dietz remain unavailable through injury and Eric Martel will also miss out, having picked up another yellow card in the defeat to Freiburg. In his absence, Denis Huseinbasic could start in midfield.
Bundesliga Match Betting Picks
Derbies are often difficult games to predict, but in this case, I think we are on relatively safe ground with this latest edition of the Leverkusen v Koln rivalry. Both teams have improved in 2023, but Leverkusen’s progression has been more substantial, and it has been particularly strong at home, earning 26 points from 15 games. At the same time, while Koln will not lack for motivation here, it does not have a great record on the road, and the home win looks the best pick in the match betting market.
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