Leverkusen vs Union SG – Analysis, Prediction, Team News
Thursday 13th April 2023
As part of our Europa League Predictions, we take a look at the first leg of the quarter final tie between Man Utd and Sevilla. Leverkusen are on a remarkable run of form, with 8 wins in 9 – another win? Read on with our Leverkusen vs Union SG prediction.
Leverkusen (EL and CL)
Leverkusen vs Union SG Match Preview
Leverkusen enter this match in a remarkable run of form that has seen Xabi Alonso’s men win eight of their last nine matches in all competitions. This dramatic resurgence has seen them enter the conversation for another Champions League campaign next season, as they’re now within five points of fourth-placed RB Leipzig. Highlights in this excellent recent run of form include a 2-1 home victory over Bayern Munich, a 3-1 home victory over Frankfurt to leapfrog them into sixth position in the Bundesliga and a seemingly unlikely away victory over Monaco in the knockout qualification round to kickstart it all.
Despite a poor Champions League campaign consisting of 1 victory, 2 draws and 3 defeats, Bayer Leverkusen are in a far healthier state coming into this Europa League quarter-final tie. While they were perhaps fortunate not to concede in their home match against Ferencvaros, the second-leg performance in Hungary could be described as composed and clinical as they emerged victorious via a 2-0 win on the night and a 4-0 win on aggregate in which they were never seriously in danger following their first-half scares in the first leg.
Union SG have firmly established themselves as the Europa League’s surprise package but were in no way fortunate to progress past an excellent Union Berlin team. It may appear to be something of a contradiction in terms to refer to Union Berlin as excellent following their 6-3 aggregate capitulation to the Belgians, but they do sit in third place in the Bundesliga and have a real chance at Champions League qualification.
Barring a couple of rough patches at the start of the season in February, Union SG have been excellent all season, both domestically and in the Europa League after they were forced to drop down from the Champions League following a narrow 3-2 aggregate defeat to last season’s Europa League finalists Rangers. In a tough group containing Union Berlin, Braga and Malmo, they remained undefeated with 13 points from 5 fixtures until the final group match, a dead rubber with Union Berlin. They’re also closing in on Genk at the top of the Jupiler Pro League as they seek their first Championship, following last year’s capitulation in the end-of-season Championship Group which saw them finish second behind Club Brugge.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Lunev, Schick
Might Not Play:
Will Not Play: Eckert-Ayensa
Leverkusen vs Union SG Lineups (Predicted)
Leverkusen (3-4-1-2): Hradecky; Kossounou, Tapsoba, Tah; Hincapie, Andrich, Palacios, Frimpong; Wirtz; Diaby, Adli
Union SG (3-5-2): Moris; Van Der Heyden, Burgess, Kandouss; Nieuwkoop, Teuma, El Azzouzi, Lynen, Lapoussin; Adingra, Boniface
Leverkusen vs Union SG Analysis
Have Leverkusen Finally Cracked It?
This might seem like an obvious thing to say as they’ve won eight of their last nine matches in all competitions, but for much of this campaign, their outlook wasn’t quite as rosy under new boss Xabi Alonso. Tactical inconsistencies switching from a back four to a central three and a poor defensive record at home and abroad saw Leverkusen firmly in the bottom half of the Bundesliga and out of the Champions League. Since then, a remarkable revival has taken place – it’s surely not a coincidence that they’ve played a central three in defence consistently during this run.
Therefore, while once we would have been talking about Leverkusen’s vulnerabilities and the issues they were facing in leaving themselves too open as they would attempt to play an expansive game, Leverkusen have conceded more than once just twice in their last nine matches. While this is still not yet considered to be a mean defence, two clean sheets in their last four matches in all competitions hints at Alonso and his coaching staff finding a tactical balance that was clearly missing for much of the season.
Home or Away, Union SG Will Go For It
Simply put, it’s a prominent feature of their play. Karel Geraerts has instilled a tactical style that combines positivity with superb movement and a high tempo that can be difficult to live with even for the likes of Union Berlin if they don’t pay them enough respect. As stated, the 6-3 aggregate was not a fluke – they played bravely and took their chances away from home, before outplaying the Bundesliga high-flyers at home and recording a deserved 3-0 victory in which their dominance was rarely challenged.
This will be a test of how much Leverkusen have improved defensively. We don’t doubt that the hosts will look to get on the front foot from the off and look to take a lead with them to Belgium, but the real question is whether or not they can do that without exposing themselves, particularly in wide areas where Union SG are particularly strong through their wingbacks Loïc Lapoussin and Bart Nieuwkoop. With Leverkusen more or less matching up in shape with the visitors, the onus will be on Union SG to ruthlessly exploit any slack positional play caused by Leverkusen’s ambition when in possession.
Both teams are in excellent form and this has all the makings of a classic encounter. Union SG will be attempting to take a positive result back to Belgium in much the same way they managed to against Union Berlin. It’s likely that they will have a similar share of the ball (approximately 40%), but that suits them – they’re inventive and clinical in transition and they generate a lot of threat down the flanks where Leverkusen are potentially vulnerable in behind.
Therefore, this match is definitely not a foregone conclusion. We’ll back the hosts who are in excellent form to come out on top, but there will be plenty of heart-in-mouth moments and we wouldn’t be particularly surprised if Union SG were able to repeat their round of 16 heroics.
Leverkusen 3-2 Union SG
Leverkusen vs Union SG Betting Tip – Over 3.5 Goals Odds:
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