Tottenham Hotspur made up for their Wembley debacle versus AS Monaco with an eventual, but steady 1-0 victory against CSKA Moscow away from home in the UEFA Champions League last month. Now rounding off the first round of their group stage campaign, the draw sees Mauricio Pochettino’s side hit the road once more, as Bayer Leverkusen awaits the north Londoners’ arrival in Germany.
A win tonight for Spurs could see them top Group E ahead of the reverse fixture at Wembley, but their opponents are unbeaten in the Champions League thus far, meanwhile they also search for their first victory following two draws to CSKA and Monaco respectively.
Here’s Fresh Football’s mini lowdown on the Bundesliga club.
Much like Spurs, a 3rd placed finish in the top flight of German football saw Leverkusen gain automatic qualification for this year’s edition of the Champions’ League.
Despite big showings against competitive rivals such as Schalke 04 and Borussia Mönchengladbach, Leverkusen failed to cover the huge gulf between them and the top two, finishing 28 points behind champions Bayern Munich and 18 away from 2nd placed Borussia Dortmund.
Leverkusen have strived to strengthen their squad with the arrivals of Kevin Volland, Aleksandar Dragovic and Julian Baumgartlinger, adding to the return of the injury-hit Charles Aranguiz and the emergence of Joel Pohjanpolo in the first team.
But strength in numbers has done little thus far to avert Roger Schmidt’s side’s rocky start to the season who, beyond a 2-1 win against Dortmund at the start of this month, has gone on to drop points against Gladbach, Eintracht Frankfurt and, most recently, Werder Bremen to leave the Group E side sitting in 10th place in the Bundesliga.
One to Watch
On paper, it’s difficult not to be struck by names such as Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Julian Brandt, the burden of pushing this side over the line may well fall on the shoulders of a familiar face to us all on the night.
Of the 16 goals scored so far by the German club in the new campaign, seven have come from ex-Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez, with the Mexican also starring last season when netting 26 goals from 43 games in all competitions.