Bayer Leverkusen vs FC Barcelona, first stop on road to Munich
The Champions League returns at a good time for Barça following the weekend’s slip up in Pamplona, which left them 10 points adrift of the Spanish League leaders, Real Madrid, leaving no time for regrets, as they pick up the title they won at Wembley last season. Barça take up the defence of their Champions League title in Germany on Tuesday evening (20.45 CET), taking on Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16.
Barcelona (FCB).- The Champions League returns at a good time for Barça following the weekend’s slip up in Pamplona, which left them 10 points adrift of the Spanish League leaders, Real Madrid, leaving no time for regrets, as they pick up the title they won at Wembley last season. The last sixteen tie at Bayer Leverkusen’s ground is near enough to this year’s final venue to whet the appetite for more European glory.
The first stop on the road to the Munich’s Allianz Arena is at Leverkusen and although the stats aren’t too favourable for Barça, who have failed to win the away game in the last three ties at this stage - against Lyon (1-1), Stuttgart (1-1) and Arsenal (2-1), they have always managed to turn it around in the second leg at the Camp Nou. On the other hand, Barça have already won away to BATE Borissov, Viktoria Pilsen and AC Milan in the competition so far this season.
The cold weather in Pamplona on Saturday night will have served as a good rehearsal for what promises to be a freezing night at the Bay Arena. FC Barcelona Manager, Pep Guardiola, has taken Sergio Busquets along, although he’s not yet been given the medical OK, as well as the B team youngsters defender Marc Bartra and keeper Oier Olazabal. The squad is again without the injured Villa, Afellay and Fontàs as well as Keita.
Last chance for Bayer
For Bayer Leverkusen, the Champions League is the only real chance of a title this season, as they were disappointingly knocked out of the German Cup at an early stage and are currently well off the pace in the Bundesliga. They have actually looked strongest in the Champions League and won all three home games in the group stage, finishing a point ahead of winners Chelsea and two ahead of third place Valencia. Coach Robin Dutt will be without three important names for the game though- Ballack, Derdiyok and Sam.