Rani Khedira played his one-hundredth Bundesliga game in the 1-1 draw against Freiburg last time out, and now he and the rest of the Augsburg first team are set to travel to Leverkusen on Sunday 23rd February (15:30 CET). The Függerstadters are still looking for their first win against Leverkusen, but Khedira isn’t concerned about any undue pressure in coming up against them on the weekend.
Rani Khedira is sceptical about the reliance on past stats for these games. “Previously, Frankfurt were our favourite opponents to play, but they gave us a serious hiding last time out,” Khedira said, referencing FCA’s 5-0 collapse against Frankfurt two weeks ago. “With that in mind,” explains Khedira, “I’m not in the business of speaking about a supposed favoured or unfavoured opponent”.
After the loss in Frankfurt, FCA played out an entertaining draw with Freiburg. “It was a very good game against Freiburg for sure, but we were also defensively more stable and took a point,” analysed Khedira, who sees the performance as a step in the right direction. “We need to all work together in defence and then show our counter-attacking strength on the pitch.”
Khedira: “We need to constantly put pressure on the ball”
In Leverkusen the Függerstadters’ defence will need to be on top form, as Leverkusen are riding the crest of a wave following two high-scoring exciting wins against Dortmund (4-3) and Union Berlin (3-2). “It’s a good team, that we witnessed up-close in our last game against them,” Khedira recalls, remembering the 3-0 home loss from September. “This time we will be better than last time, but it will still be a very difficult challenge.”
The 26-year-old sees the biggest strength of Leverkusen lying in their attack. “They have a really good offence and play very wide. We need to defend very well and constantly put pressure on the ball so we throw Leverkusen off their game. Otherwise, says Khedira, it will be, “incredibly difficult for us. But I see us having chances, that we need to take to get something from this game.”