FC Krasnodar vs Bayer Leverkusen
UEFA Europa League
Date: Thursday, 14 February 2019
Kick-Off at 17:55 UK/ 18:55 CET
Venue: Stadion FK Krasnodar, Krasnodar
Bayer Leverkusen will look to transfer their excellent Bundesliga form onto the European stage when they travel to FC Krasnodar for the first leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 32 tie on Thursday (kick-off 6:55pm CET/5:55pm GMT/12:55pm ET).
Three successive league wins – in which they have scored 11 goals – have propelled the Werkself back into the top six of the Bundesliga in recent weeks. The form of young midfielders Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz in particular has been central to Bayer’s improvement under new head coach Peter Bosz: Brandt has been directly involved in six goals in his last three league appearances, while Havertz’s goal in Friday’s 5-1 triumph at Mainz took him to eight for the season – more than he managed in the previous two campaigns combined. Bosz has no fresh injury concerns for the trip to Russia, although the Dutchman will once again have to make do without captain Lars Bender, who is struggling with a thigh problem.
Krasnodar are without former Fortuna Düsseldorf and Nuremberg left-back Cristian Ramirez, who was sent off in their 3-0 group-stage defeat to Sevilla in December – the Russian club’s last competitive outing prior to a winter break which ends at the start of March. Midfielder Yury Gazinsky, who has played every minute of the hosts’ Europe League campaign so far, also misses out after picking up his third yellow card of the tournament in Spain. Former Arsenal player Kristoffer Olsson, who joined Krasnodar from AIK in January, is eligible to play.
FC Krasnodar vs Bayer Leverkusen: Head-to-head
The sides have never met beforehand and now look for historic success over the rivals. Krasnodar have proven their character at this ground on many occasions already. Bayer Leverkusen come as slight favourites but have a lot to prove as they want to deny the home side – something Sevilla, Standard Liege, and Akhisarspor all failed to do.
Leverkusen are unbeaten in their last five games against Russian clubs in Europe.
The Werkself have lost only two of their last ten European away games (W4 D4).
Leverkusen scored 10 goals in their three away games in the group stage.
In the Bundesliga, Bayer have won more points on the road (17) than at home (16) this season.
The Russian Premier League’s second-placed side have lost five of their six games against German opposition, their only victory coming against Borussia Dortmund in the 2015/16 Europa League group stage.
Krasnodar left-back Ramirez made 23 Bundesliga 2 appearances for Düsseldorf and Nuremberg between 2013 and 2015.
Krasnodar: Kritsyuk – Petrov, Martynovich (c), Fjoluson, Stotskiy – Olsson, Kabore, Pereyra – Wanderson, Ari, Claesson
Out: Ramirez, Gazinsky (both suspended)
Coach: Oleg Fomenko
Leverkusen: Hradecky – Weiser, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Havertz, Aranguiz, Brandt – Bellarabi, Volland (c), Bailey
Out: L. Bender (thigh), Pohjanpalo (ankle), Retsos (thigh)
Coach: Peter Bosz
Krasnodar have lost all their meetings but only had a single victory with Germans while Bayer is unbeaten in the last 5 fixtures and has lost just 2 of their last 10 European away fixtures.