Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham will lock horns in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday evening.
This Group E encounter could prove critical in what is fast becoming a sneaky group of death. Spurs outplayed Monaco in their first match but ultimately lost. They did well to bounce back against CSKA and will feel fairly confident going into this match. They have fared well in the absence of Harry Kane and have arguably found a system that works better without him.
Roger Schmidt’s side have been in indifferent domestic form whilst drawing their first two European matches. They will be hoping that former United striker Javier Hernandez can light up the BayArena and reignite a season that is flagging.
UEFA Champions League | Tuesday 18 October | BayArena | 20:45
To Win Match (90 Mins)
Bayer Leverkusen 11/10 | Draw 47/20 | Tottenham 47/20
Leverkusen have enjoyed an inconsistent start to the season that has been characterized by dropping points against lesser opponents. They have not won in their last seven previous outings in Europe’s Premier club competition, albeit drawing in their last four encounters. They will be looking to take advantage of the fact that Spurs have lost six of their ten trips to Germany.
Javier Hernandez is their principal goal threat, the type of player whom could prove the ultimate difference in qualification in a group of such fine margins.
German winger Julian Brandt will look to exploit Spurs if Erik Lamela and Moussa Sissoko get too far forward. He has excellent pace and will likely pose their biggest threat. Hakan Calhanogluis famously deadly from dead ball situations while Charles Aranguiz brings a quiet control to the midfield.
I do get a bit concerned for Leverkusen when I look at their defensive options. Tahm and Toprak hardly inspire supreme confidence in the heart of defence, especially with a side has multi-dimensional as Spurs to contain.
Spurs thoroughly outplayed West Brom at the weekend yet somehow managed to find themselves in a precarious situation with ten minutes to play. Fortunately, Dele Alli saved their blushes with a cute finish in the dying embers of the match. Their focus shifts to what is turning out to be a fiercely competitive group.
Toby Alderweireld is out of the game with a knee injury, which will likely see Kurt Wimmer slide in alongside Jan Verthongen. There is the possibility of putting Eric Dier in the centre of defence to allow Victor Wanyama to drift into Mauricio Pochettino's new 4-1-4-1 formation, but I think the Argentine tactician will opt to play Dier in the holding role.
Son Heung-min only played for around twenty minutes against West Brom, indicating that the newly crowned Premier League Player of the Month will likely start ahead of Vincent Janssen this week. There is a fair amount of competition in the wider areas, but I think that Pochettino will ultimately opt for Lamela and Sissoko. Moussa Dembele is fit but is unlikely to make the starting eleven.
The absence of Kane has been navigated well and Spurs will feel confident that their athletic midfield will have the dynamism necessary to pick up a valuable result on the road.
Verdict: Tottenham Win (47/20)
Most pundits seem to see this as a draw, but I think there’s some value in backing a Spurs victory. They were actually quite impressive against West Brom without sealing the deal. Son has been in outstanding form and could prove the difference this week. Leverkusen seem to be experiencing something of an identity crisis this season and could be in a process of transition.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets