Leverkusen hope to maintain goal spree against Hoffenheim

Soccer Football - DFB Cup Second Round - Borussia Moenchengladbach v Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia-Park, Moenchengladbach, Germany - October 31, 2018 Bayer Leverkusen celebrate after the match REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

BERLIN (Reuters) – Bayer Leverkusen will be hoping to maintain a sudden surge in form at home to Hoffenheim on Saturday, after the side ended an early-season crisis with 11 goals in two matches that has helped restore confidence in coach Heiko Herrlich.

Leverkusen rifled six goals past Werder Bremen last week to snap a three-game run without a Bundesliga win before demolishing Borussia Moenchengladbach 5-0 in a German Cup second round tie on Wednesday.

Herrlich, who took over in 2017, has been under pressure for weeks due to the side’s mediocre start to the season, with headlines before the big win over Werder speculating when not if he would be sacked.

Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voller tried to ease the weight on his coach, blaming journalists for constantly questioning Herrlich’s future.

“With all due respect, you can ask critical questions but I do not find it right how a man is treated after his team just won 6-2 playing outstanding football,” Voller said after the Werder win.

“He was asked 25 times if he was leaving. Don’t you have other questions?”

With an abundance of talent in the squad, including young German internationals Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz, forward Kevin Volland and winger Karim Bellarabi, quality is not one of Leverkusen’s problems, but scoring goals has been.

Prior to the Werder win, they had not managed more than two goals in any league game this season, having also lost to all the in-form teams, including Gladbach, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.

Leverkusen are currently 12th on 11 points from nine matches.

“I hope we can carry this Werder momentum into our next games,” Herrlich said earlier this week. On Wednesday, they certainly did.

Victory over an inconsistent Hoffenheim would only strengthen Herrlich’s position at Leverkusen and reignite ambitions of qualification for Europe.

Champions League side Hoffenheim sit in eighth place and have been equally as disappointing as Leverkusen, and a 2-0 loss to RB Leipzig in the German Cup on Wednesday did little to boost morale.

Hoffeinheim have a Champions League fixture at Olympique Lyon next week that could all but seal the German club’s group stage exit, so they will be aware that a slip up against Leverkusen at this stage of the season could prove costly.

Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund, who are on 21 points, travel to VfL Wolfsburg. Champions Bayern Munich, second on 19, host Freiburg.

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