VFL Bochum vs Bayer Leverkusen: Bundesliga Preview, Gameweek 34, 2023
VFL Bochum host Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday in the final gameweek of the Bundesliga season, with both sides battling it out for different reasons.
The hosts sit in the relegation playoff place, just behind VFB Stuttgart on goal difference and only one point ahead of Schalke 04 in the second automatic relegation position.
Leverkusen on the other hand are sat in sixth place and occupying the Europa Conference League qualification spot on 50 points, just one ahead of VFL Wolfsburg. With both teams having so much on the line it is set to be a cagey affair.
Bochum have given themselves a fighting chance thanks to 3-2 win over FC Augsburg and then a 1-1 draw with already relegated Hertha BSC last weekend. They required a 94th minute equaliser from defender Keven Schlotterbeck goal to keep them out of the bottom two for now.
Bayer 04 would have sown up a European spot weeks ago but a real dip in form has left them leaving it to be decided on the final day. They are winless in their last six in all competitions following a 2-2 draw with Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend.
The positive for Leverkusen is they are unbeaten away from home in their last seven, drawing their last three.
These two met back in January with Leverkusen winning 2-0 thanks to an Edmond Tapsoba penalty and Adam Hlozek strike in the second-half.
Bochum have a number of things to consider this weekend regarding their approach to the game. Win and they stay up regardless or at least make the relegation playoff spot, lose and they may be relegated.
Midfielder Patrick Osterhage will face a late fitness test to decide whether he will be available for the clash. Philipp Forster is expected to be available despite leaving the game early last weekend with a minor strain, he is key to the side and so is likely to start.
Greek defender Kostas Stafylidis has remained out of training as he recovers from a shoulder injury. He has not yet been ruled out but there is strong doubt over his availability.
Leverkusen came through the week unscaved and look to have everyone available following their draw with Gladbach. The only disappointment is that defender Piero Hincapie was sent off in added time last weekend and so will miss this crucial fixture.
Positive news is goalkeeper Andrey Lunev returned to training but will not be kept with the team next season after struggling to challenge Lukas Hradecky for the starting spot.
Another player set to leave but with a Bayer legend status is Karim Bellarabi. The winger has missed plenty of time this season and sadly is very unlikely to play at the weekend on so will not get the send off he perhaps deserves.
Last season’s top scorer Patrick Schick has also missed a lot of time this season and had he been fully fit who knows where Leverkusen might have been.
Riemann; Janko, Ordets, Masovic, Heintz; Stoger, Losilla, Forster; Asano, Hofmann, Antwi-Adjei
Hradecky; Tapsoba, Tah, Fosu-Mensah; Frimpong, Palacios, Demirbay, Bakker; Diaby, Adli, Wirtz
VFL Bochum – Philipp Hofmann
Bochum headed into this Bundesliga season as the favourites to be relegated but hard work across the board and goals from experienced striker Philipp Hofmann have ensured they are still in with a chance of survival.
The 30 year old has eight goals to his name this season and at 6-foot-4 he is a real target man for the side and helps hold the ball up when under pressure. His aerial presence in his own area is also a huge asset to Bochum.
Hoffman has not scored since gameweek 27 and there is no better time for him to break his dip in form in keeping his side in the top flight.
Bayer Leverkusen – Moussa Diaby
Not much needs to be said about Moussa Diaby. Since he arrived in Germany he has been one of the best and most entertaining players in the league and has had a number of clubs trying to secure his signature.
The Frenchman has nine goals and eight assists to his name this season and has been integral in the turnaround since Xabi Alonso came into the dugout. His ability to go on both feet and at pace gives defenders nightmares so if Bochum do play aggressive, Diaby is likely to catch them out on the break.
He is another talented winger that starts on the right and cuts in onto his left foot to create for his team. At just 23 years old he still has plenty of room for improvement and is the reason why teams are willing to part with huge sums of money to sign him.
Where is the game being played?
Leverkusen make just the hour long journey north to face Bochum at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion.
What time is kick-off?
The game will kick-off at 14:30 BST on Saturday.
How can I watch?
The game will not be available to UK viewers but highlights will be uploaded to the Bundesliga YouTube channel shortly after the game has finished.