Atletico Madrid travel to the BayArena to face Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 on Tuesday evening, in a game that was billed as a potential banana-skin when the draw was made back in mid-December.
At the time, Atleti had suffered consecutive defeats and went three without a win in all competitions, while Leverkusen enjoyed a big home win against AS Monaco in the Champions League and were unbeaten at home in the group stages.
But with Atleti enjoying a fantastic 2017 for form, while Leverkusen have been guilty of inconsistency, Tuesday’s meeting could well go the way of the visitors.
Atleti have turned a corner
Diego Simeone’s side have turned their form around after a slow start to the season. Their European campaign was nearly flawless, boasting 15 points from six games in Group D, and led to them going through as winners. But it was their results outside of the competition that had many doubting their chances. Atletico Madrid endured a three-game winless run in mid-December in La Liga and the Champions League, failing to score in any outing, while losing four of their last six away from home.
But now they have enjoyed a seven-game unbeaten run on the road, their latest outing resulting in a 4-1 win away to Sporting Gijon. Atleti boast three wins and a draw from their last four overall, and will have added motivation given this is their last chance for a major trophy this season – Simeone’s men are too many points adrift in the La Liga title race and they’re out of the Copa Del Rey. After being losing Champions League finalists twice in the last three years, they are putting all their eggs into one basket in Europe this season.
Leverkusen can’t build up any momentum
Bayer Leverkusen’s form has been ebbing and flowing in recent weeks. The Bundesliga side have struggled for consistency in competitive fixtures, having won two and lost two of their last four in the division. In the Bundesliga, Leverkusen have won just four games since November 2016. In the Champions League, the Germans had only won two of the six group games. Bayer have been tough to beat, but they haven’t been blowing teams. They would settle for a goalless stalemate in the home leg, but will be in grave danger of a beating now their opponents are in prolific form. Atletico Madrid 13/10 to win against Bayer Levekusen on Tuesday night.
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