Leverkusen prepared for their Champions League clash in Madrid with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Stuttgart. The Swabians are now left rock-bottom for another week with the worst record in the club's history.
Bayer Leverkusen 4-0 Stuttgart
(Wendell 32', Drmic 35', 59', Bellarabi 50')
Finally, there's a hint of the old Josip Drmic again. The striker recorded another double for Bayer Leverkusen in the 4-0 destruction of Stuttgart to take his tally to six for the season and wiggle his way to the forefront of Roger Schmidt's team selections.
While his form has been hardly earth-shattering, recent weeks have signaled a change in fortunes for the striker. Signed on the back of scoring 17 league goals with relegated Nuremburg last season, the striker's first six months in Leverkusen were tempestuous, to say the least.
With Kiessling showing no signs of weakening early in the campaign, Drmic's future was keenly-debated at the January transfer window with Hamburg holding serious interest in the player. His time with the club was already beginning to come to a close.
But as his experienced team-mate fired successive blanks in front of goal, the need for a fresh pair of legs to lead the attack was never more apparent. Drmic seems to have clutched his opportunity with both hands and will be in pole position to start Leverkusen's second leg in Madrid having turned out a workman-like display in the 1-0 win three weeks ago.
Routine win for the Werkself
The striker started from the front for the visit of bottom-placed Stuttgart, with Hakan Calhanoglu, Simon Rolfes and Kyriakos Papadopolous returning to the fold. After a timid half an hour, left-back Wendell kicked off the scoring, smashing the ball home from close range in the 32nd minute following some comical errors in the Stuttgart defense.
Within three minutes, Drmic's first arrived as a result of some excellent wing-play from Roberto Hillbert who crossed for the Swiss striker to nod past the helpless Sven Ulreich from inside the six-yard-box.
On 50 minutes, Leverkusen's slaughtering of confidence-stricken Stuttgart continued as Karim Bellarabi showed some dangerous footwork, leaving Gotoku Sakai for dead before arrowing the ball into the corner of the net.
Drmic's double arrived nine minutes later, the striker poking the ball past Ulreich after he fortuitously ran into the path of Calhanoglu's attempt to break through the defense.
Stuttgart offered little punch and appear resigned to the bottom of the table. After backing his coach last week, Robin Dutt is now left with a decision to make before the Swabians' next outing at home to Eintracht Frankfurt next weekend.
Huub Stevens' side are now the worst in Stuttgart's history, based on their league record, and is without a win in nine matches, the last six games ending in defeat for the Reds.