Bayer Leverkusen (3-1-2) vs Atletico Madrid (4-1-1) clash at the Bay Arena
|Date & Time||Wednesday February 25, 2015, 2:45 PM (EST)|
Odds: Bayer Leverkusen (3.45) / Draw (3.25) / Atletico Madrid (2.37)
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Atletico Madrid visit Germany in what should be one of the best clashes in the Round of 16 of the Champions League. Bayer Leverkusen was the revelation side last year and has continued with their awe striking performances this season as well. However, this time, Atletico Madrid is in their way of the next round of 8. Obviously at the start of the campaign even qualification was a bonus for Bayer and for this reason they will go into this match up without the stress of expectation.
On the contrary, the Spanish runner ups came into this competition this season with the expectations of going all the way since they were so close last time round. However, they faced a rather complicated group but were able to dodge multiple bullets and passed their group as leaders.
Atletico’s recent form suffered a small slump, especially when they faced Celta away and lost in a very poor showing. Nevertheless, they were able to regain composure and return to winning ways with a 3-0 result obtained in the first 45 minutes versus Almeria. The return of Arda Turan was a huge plus for the Colchoneros. With their attack back in order and the prolific numbers that Griezmann and Mandzukic are putting together Atletico do have the tools necessary to return to the Vicente Calderon with a positive result. However, they are missing a key member in midfield in Koke who believe it or not is probably the main source of creaitivity for this squad. In the absence of Koke a lot of the passing falls on the shoulders of Tiago and Arda Turan. Turan who returned on the weekend remains a match time decision for the game versus Leverkusen.
On the other side, we have a Bayer side who returned to winning ways in the Bundesliga this weekend and was able to protect their third place in the table. With no major injuries concerning Roger Schmidt we will see a side that is ready to protect their territory and give the Spaniards a surprise. With their 3 man trident in mid-field (Son, Calhanoglu, and Bellarabi) Leverkusen has been able to make many adversaries fall before them. Furthermore, having Spahic holding the back line is always comforting for this Bayer squad when going forward as without Spahic they have lost the majority of their matches. Nevertheless, the current fall of form of Kiessling has played a very important role in the rise to prominence of Drmic. It is still unclear who will start on Wednesday but they both are a handful and should cause problems to Atletico’s backline.
In essence, both these teams are somewhat evenly matched but it is no surprise that Atletico is the side with more individual quality and the team that possesses those World Class stars that make or break a match. Even though Bayer has a very young and talented group of players, Atletico’s rough style of play and experience should probably be too much for them. As they say in Spain, in a cup tie, Atletico Madrid is the most dangerous team you can play, and in a final, you don’t even want to know. For this reason, I am going with Atletico Madrid to win at odds of 2.37. For those of you who are not confident enough to back an away team in Champions League I can also recommend the Both Teams to Score as Atletico will most likely not leave the Bay Arena without a goal and Bayer must score if they want their Champions League dream to stay alive.