Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona | Champions League | February 14th 2012
Reigning Spanish and Champions League champions Barcelona has picked the wrong time to go into a mini-slump as they’re heading into their Champions League showdown with Bayer Leverkusen at the Bay Arena in Leverkusen , Germany on Feb. 14. Barcelona has been slipping down the table in the Spanish La Liga and are now in second place, 10 points behind arch rival Real Madrid. They have 14 wins, six draws and two defeats on the season for 48 points. They’ve got the best defensive record in the Spanish league with just 16 goals against.
Barcelona hasn’t lost in their last seven matches in Germany, with their last defeat coming back in the 2000-01 season against Leverkusen. The German team won all of their Group E home games in the Champions League this season, but Barcelona has been hot on the road and averaged four goals a game in their away matches during the group stage.
Bayer Leverkusen sits in sixth place in the German Bundesliga table with 31 points from eight wins, seven draws and six losses. They’ve scored and allowed 28 goals in their 21 games. However, they’ll have to play the Spanish giants without midfielder Michael Ballack who was injured in a recent training session and if he’s healthy enough will likely just make it to the bench. The 35-year-old former captain of Germany has been on the bench for the last three Leverkusen games.
Rudi Voller, who is the director of sport for Leverkusen, said his team’s in for a tough test because Barcelona is the best team in the world. His team didn’t prepare for it well as they lost their sixth league game on the weekend. Team manager Robin Dutt is a bit more optimistic about his squad’s chances though and points to the fact they beat Valencia and Chelsea in the group stage after falling behind to both clubs.
Osasuna proved in the Spanish League that Barcelona is beatable as they handed them a 1-0 loss on the weekend. It now looks like Madrid is going to take the Spanish crown from Barcelona unless they self destruct. The Spanish side will now be attempting to become the first club to ever defend the Champions League trophy. Barcelona realizes the only way to keep their Spanish title is if Madrid slips up. But for the moment they’re focusing on the Champions League and have taken a 22-man squad to Germany, where the cold temperatures will have to be gotten used to.
Barcelona took Sergio Busquets with them to Germany, but he’s listed as doubtful for the game due to a knee injury. Bayer Leverkusen will likely be without Sidney Sam as well as Ballack and could also be without Eren Derdiyok. Defender Danny da Costa is expected to make the squad after a minor injury in training. Barcelona’s Lionel Messi will be the man to watch as he’s scored six Champions League goals so far this season.
Leverkusen vs Barcelona Predictions and Odds
Bayern goes into the game with just one win, two losses and two draws in their last five games while Barcelona has two wins, two draws and a loss. Look for Barcelona to keep their recent unbeaten streak in Germany alive with a win over Leverkusen.
The latest odds by William Hill have a Leverkusen win at 7/1 with a Barcelona victory at 4/9 and a draw at 3/1. Sign up at the banner up top to get free bets.