Bundesliga Preview: Schmidt to make changes, Bayern tipped for success
Bayer Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt is set to punish under-performers by ringing the changes ahead of Saturday's trip to Bundesliga surprise package Augsburg.
Schmidt's side lost 5-4 at home to second-placed Wolfsburg in their last league outing, with the hosts finding themselves 3-0 down after half an hour, prompting the coach to make all three of his substitutions at half-time.
The introduction of Simon Rolfes, Josip Drmic and Julian Brandt helped Leverkusen go on to score four times in the second half, yet their efforts ultimately counted for little as Bas Dost's fourth goal of the day consigned the hosts to a first home defeat of the season in stoppage time following a red card for Emir Spahic.
Schmidt felt that his half-time tweaking was integral to avoiding an embarrassment and, after hauling off the disappointing Hakan Calhanoglu, Stefan Kiessling and Lars Bender at the interval, the former Red Bull Salzburg tactician will be making changes for the Augsburg match.
"It [making three changes at half-time] was about the dignity of the team," he told reporters.
"I have increased confidence in some players [after the second-half display]. Now, other players have shown what they can do. The cards will be reshuffled."
Champions Bayern Munich obliterated Hamburg 8-0 at the weekend and will be looking to produce another ruthless display at Paderborn on Saturday.
Pep Guardiola's men go into the weekend eight points clear of Wolfsburg and will be strong favourites to emerge victorious again, with Paderborn winning just one of their last 11 in the league.
Wolfsburg, meanwhile, will be aiming to extend their unbeaten run to 10 league matches when they host Hertha Berlin on Sunday, just three days after entertaining Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA Europa League.
Borussia Monchengladbach also face a tricky European test on Thursday, travelling to Europa League holders Sevilla, and that clash will be followed by a visit to Hamburg on Sunday.
Lucien Favre's team are enjoying a fine season domestically and a victory will see them consolidate their place in third, ahead of Roberto Di Matteo's Schalke, who have risen from 11th since the Italian's appointment in October.
Di Matteo will be preparing his side for a potentially tough day as they welcome a resurgent Werder Bremen going for a sixth triumph in a row, while the Gelsenkirchen-based outfit's local rivals Borussia Dortmund go to Stuttgart in Friday's solitary fixture.
Dortmund have endured a turbulent campaign and sit just a point above the bottom three, though success on Saturday will see them rack up three successive league wins for the first time this season.
After replacing the sacked Kasper Hjulmand, Martin Schmidt begins his spell in charge of the Mainz first team with a Rhine-Main derby clash at home to Eintracht Frankfurt, while Hannover and Hoffenheim head to Koln and Freiburg, respectively in Saturday's other meetings.