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Monday, 21 January, 2019

Leverkusen could have the edge in tight tussle

Another tight tussle between these two teams is envisaged at Wembley
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Champions League Group E
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm

Stalemate specialists Tottenham and Bayer Leverkusen couldn’t produce a winner between them in Germany two weeks ago and the search for supremacy may be just as challenging when they reconvene at Wembley on Wednesdat evening.

Group E has become the group of draws with four of the six fixtures so far ending all-square, including the 0-0 between these two at the BayArena.

The Germans were the better side overall and only Hugo Lloris’s excellence deprived Roger Schmidt’s men of a victory following their second-half onslaught.

Leverkusen might just have a slight edge again on Wednesday, with Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld absentees from the home ranks and boss Mauricio Pochettino having to think about Sunday’s Premier League joust with Arsenal.

The draw, at 13-5, might be a more popular choice for punters than is usual, though Leverkusen +0.5 on the Asian handicap is just preferred. It works out fractionally better value than the Leverkusen or draw double chance.

Spurs didn’t look that clever on their previous appearance at Wembley, their temporary home on European nights. That was against Monaco, a match which ended in a 2-1 loss.

That defeat preceded a five-match winning run – though they are now on a five-match winless streak.

Four of those five have ended in draws and they’ve gone four without a goal from open play.

The lack of goals is probably more of a blip than a trend. They average 14 efforts a game in this competition but aren’t getting many on target. Leverkusen average 15, incidentally, so a one or both teams not to score or under 2.5 goals wager holds little appeal. The stats say it’s likely but these are two sides who like to get forward and the goals will come at some point.

Spurs have not won any of their last five matches at Wembley and even though Kane wasn’t scoring many before his injury, they miss his quality and focus leading the line.

That said, they are still unbeaten in the league and boast the Premier League’s best defence. They are a 21-20 to win but that looks a bit on the short side.

Leverkusen aren’t playing anywhere near as well as they did last season and the performance against Spurs last time was one of their better ones recently. They did, however, look sharp again at the weekend towards the end of the 2-1 win at Wolfsburg (with a much-changed side) which eased some of the pressure on Schmidt.

The season isn’t quite mapping out for Leverkusen as many had anticipated. Schmidt, the godfather of the gegenpress, has seen his tactics questioned though he won’t be altering his philosophy any time soon.

Their Champions League record has become an issue – three draws this season and without a win in their last eight ties – though it was an embarrassing cup exit at the hands of tier-three opponents Sportfreunde which really had the knives being sharpened for the coach.

Javier Hernandez is without a goal in five, Charles Aranguiz has missed a couple of penalties, Julian Brandt isn’t maturing as wonderfully as most predicted, and so on.

But the team who finished third in the Bundesliga remain a threat and are evidently hard to beat in Europe this season.

Leverkusen +0.5 on Asian handicap
2pts 9-10 bet365


Match facts

Team news
Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld are ruled out while Erik Lamela is a doubt. Moussa Sissoko, banned domestically, is available.

Four-goal Joel Pohjanpalo (foot) is out. Karim Bellarabi is also injured though Vladlen Yurchenko has returned to training.

Key stat
Spurs have gone over six hours since last scoring from open play


Group E has become the group of draws with four of the six fixtures so far ending all-square, including the 0-0 between these two at the BayArena
E.W. Terms
Sky bet