Tottenham Hotspurs will be looking to bag three crucial points when they host Bayer Leverkusen this Wednesday.
This Group E encounter could have massive implications in a group slowly emerging as the most competitive in the competition. It helps that there is no mega side in the group, with all four capable of huge performances on any giving night. Monaco have the ascendancy in the group and face CSKA at home. Should Monaco win that encounter, this game takes on even more gravitas. Spurs have the slight edge in the group but were extremely fortunate to draw in Leverkusen. Leverkusen bossed the midfield and really got to grips with Pochettino’s 4-1-4-1 formation. Roger Schmidt’s side picked up an impressive victory over Wolfsburg and won’t feel daunted by their trip to North London.
Tottenham v Bayer Leverkusen | Wednesday 2 November | White Hart Lane | 21:45
To Win (90 Mins)
Tottenham 19/20 | Draw 49/20 | Leverkusen 26/10
Victor Janssen has been an exemplar of effort and industry, but the Dutch striker has yet to really make much of an impact at Spurs. That’s what leads me to believe that Pochettino will likely start Kane this week. Kane is apparently very close to full fitness and I think that they miss the English striker immensely. They have not won in five games in all competitions, despite dominating many of those encounters. Kane just offers that natural, instinctive finishing that will be hard for Pochettino to ignore this week. Toby Alderweireld is still unavailable, meaning Dier will continue to deputize in the heart of defense.
Pochettino may just have to swallow his pride and switch to a more conventional 4-2-3-1 this week. His side struggled against Leverkusen’s high pressing 4-4-2 two weeks back, with Wanyama caught in no man’s land on various occasions. They looked far better when Moussa Dembelle came on to augment their midfield. I have to admit that I am a bit concerned for Spurs this week. Leverkusen have an exciting side whose potential is not reflected in their Bundesliga position at all.
Schmidt’s high pressing game looked extremely impressive in the first tie between these two sides. And they didn’t even start that game with Julian Brandt - who in my opinion is one of the most talented players plying their trade in the Bundesliga. I expect the versatile winger to start in an effort to keep Spurs’ marauding full-backs a little honest.
Slovenian international Kevin Kampl was instrumental against Wolfsburg and will provide Wanyama with difficulties. His range of passing his excellent, as is that of Lars Bender. And then, in the heart of it, you have Chilean Aranguiz looking to spoil anything that the opposition does. Look for him and Alli to have a potentially titanic tussle.
Javier Hernandez returns to England and will be hoping to utilize some of that United experience this week. The Mexican striker has an impressive record since joining Leverkusen: scoring 33 goals in 53 games. He dovetails brilliantly with Swiss striker Mehmedi. Who holds up the ball and operates in that classical big guy, little guy axis with the ‘Little Pea.’ He also helps Chicharito in implementing Leverkusen’s pressing game high up the field. These two could prove a handful for a Spurs side that have lost that winning mentality.
Verdict: Leverkusen Win at 26/10
I’m actually putting my neck out here and I fancy Leverkusen to upset Spurs. Spurs are slightly low on confidence despite remaining unbeaten in the Premier League. Leverkusen threatened to overwhelm Spurs in the midfield area at times. Furthermore, Javier Hernandez provides Leverkusen with the killer instinct that Spurs lack, even if Kane does make a return.
Written by Damian Kayat for @Hollywoodbets