Speaking at the visitors' press conference on Friday afternoon, his opposite number Ralph Hasenhüttl predicted an exciting and heart-fought game at the Leverkusen stadium: "Two really good teams face each other. I would definitely go there as a spectator," said the Leipzig coach. "Both teams are similar in their approach and both have high quality players in attack," added Hasenhüttl - who sat next to Herrlich when the pair were working to earn their coaching licences in 2005.
For Herrlich it is not just an encounter with one of the strongest rivals in the league. "We don't need to beat about the bush: Leipzig are there where we want to be. The game is a chance for the club and the team to show we want to get back there," explained the 45 year-old at the pre-match press conference held at the media centre at the BayArena, broadcast live as usual on bayer04.de and Facebook. "Ideally we'll take all three points tomorrow and that would represent a big step forwards for us."
In all probability, that will come down to the Werkself pros taking a decisive approach to the game. "Leipzig are very strong at counter pressing when they lose possession. You have to be able to deal with that. When we have the ball we definitely won't have much time to think about where we're going to play it. We have to make quick decisions. and that's exactly what we've tried to learn in the past two weeks," said Herrlich.
Ahead of this crunch encounter, the Bayer 04 head coach is happy the personnel situation at the Werkself has improved in the past few days. Jonathan Tah (back) and Benny Henrichs (viral infection) were able to rejoin full training at the start of the week. Leon Bailey and Wendell have both recovered from colds.
This game comes too early for Sven Bender who made a surprising return to the training ground on Wednesday just eleven days after his double rib fracture in the Augsburg match. "Sven Bender definitely wanted to try it out in training yesterday but in the end he had almost unbearable pains," explained Herrlich. "So it doesn't make sense as the risk is too big for us. We'll see if we can get it sorted by next week. But only if we don't disrupt the healing process again." At the same time, he focused on other players: "Of course, Sven Bender is special and he is the absolute boss in defence. But we have a very good squad and enough quality players who can fill in. And that's what we'll do." In terms of names or further details he didn't want "to give too much away."
Bayer 04 are expecting a capacity crowd at the BayArena for the clash with the team in second place – and around 1,200 fans are expected from Leipzig
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