Bayer Leverkusen vs Barcelona preview

February 13, 2012
By: Frank Beresford

This is probably the best time to be facing mighty Barcelona as the Catalans are clearly struggling for form, so Bayer Leverkusen will fancy their chances in the first leg of this last 16 stage clash.

The German giants did well to progress from the group that also contained sides like Chelsea, Valencia and Genk, although they were very unlucky to be pitted against the reigning champions.

Die Werkself go into this game low on spirits, after the narrow defeat to Borussia Dortmund left them in the sixth place in Bundesliga standings, but poor league form is not the only concern.

Important players Sidney Sam, Eren Derdiyok and Michael Ballack all picked up injuries during last week and are now set to miss the Barcelona clash.

The good news is that Lars Bender and Andre Schurrle have recovered from ankle and facial injury respectively and they are expected to start.

Taking everything into account, it is no wonder Bayer are 8.50 (15/2) with bet365 to beat Barcelona at BayArena.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-1-2): Leno – Corluka, Schwaab, Friedrich, Kadlec – Castro, Reinartz, Rolfes – Bender – Kiessling, Schurrle.

This game clearly comes at the worst possible time for Barcelona as the Catalans are going through a very rough patch at the moment.

After securing their place in Copa del Rey final, Pep Guardiola’s side virtually said goodbye to La Liga title, as they were beaten to Osasuna and now trail Real Madrid by 10 points.

Guardiola’s decision to leave Xavi, Iniesta and Fabregas on the bench certainly played a part in the defeat, but that just goes to show that the gaffer wants his side to finish the job in Leverkusen.

Given that the hosts will be without several important players, odds of 1.44 (4/9) offered by William Hill could be worth a shot.

The midfield trio is set to return after being rested against Osasuna, but Sergio Busquets is unlikely to feature even though he made the squad.

Probable starting line-up (4-3-3): Valdes – Dani Alves, Puyol, Pique, Abidal – Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta – Pedro, Messi, Sanchez.

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