The German Bundesliga has two genuine title contenders, just a point separates Bayern Munich from Borussia Dortmund, with Celtic’s opponents tonight, Bayer Leverkusen, a point behind Freiburg in fourth place.
Fourth would be enough for Champions League qualification next season but no fewer than five teams sit within a three point margin below them; the competition for European places in Germany is incredibly tight.
Leverkusen visit seventh placed Leipzig on Sunday, a win for the home team would be enough to see them move above Leverkusen, by any measure, this is a more important game for our German opponents than tonight’s Europa League game.
Leverkusen also need to arrest a slip in form. A 4-0 win over Real Betis and a 1-0 win over Bochum are their only victories in 8 outings, a period that has seen them drop out of the League Cup and any title ambitions.
A result better than a 0-4 defeat tonight will be enough for the home side, although a win will ensure they top the group and avoid a Champions League drop out in the next round. It will also allow them to rest players in the final group match in two weeks.
I know Ange Postecoglou will want to compete and do his best to achieve a result, but that 0-4 home defeat still haunts, I don’t expect anything tonight and my real hope is that we come through the game with a full complement ready to go against Aberdeen on Sunday.
This is not the European campaign any of us wanted, but with Europa Conference qualification secured, I only see past the next league game.