Atlético Madrid have been handed a tie with Bayer Leverkusen in the first knock-out round of the Champions League.
On Feb. 25, Atlético will travel to the BayArena to face off against Bayer Leverkusen.
Atlético last met Bayer in the 2010/11 Europa League season where both matches ended in 1-1 draws.
Bayer are currently third in the Bundesliga with a total of 24 points. They have won six, drawn another six and lost three matches so far in the season. In their past five league matches, they’ve only won twice. So far in the league, Leverkusen have not lost at home; all of their defeats have come away from the BayArena.
In regards to their Champions league form, many were surprised when it was Monaco who topped Group C and not the favorites Bayer Leverkusen. However, it can be argued that Bayer were the superior team whenever they faced off against Monaco. If the Germans had put on their shooting boots those nights, then the draw would have been a bit different.
Some of Bayer Leverkusen’s standout players are the Germans, Lars Bender, Karim Bellarbi and Stefan Kießling; the Bosnian, Emir Spahić—yes, the one that used to play for Sevilla; the Turk, Calganoglu—who has deadly free kicks; and the South Korean, Son Heung-min, who in my opinion is Bayer’s standout player.
It is no surprise that Son is Bayer Leverkusen’s top goal scorer in the Champions League with three goals to his name. He has also been named the Man of the Match in two group stage matches.
Atlético will have to be careful and especially keep an eye on Bayer Leverkusen’s pacey wingers—Bellarbi and Son. Not only are they pacey but clinical too. So far in the Bundesliga, Son and Bellarbi have scored 12 goals in total.
Since the Bundesliga has a month long winter break, the Germans will be well rested when they face off against Atlético. On the other hand, Spain gets crazy in January with league and Copa del Rey fixtures. The team will have to rotate well in order to get to Germany in prime conditions.
The return leg will be played at the Vicente Calderón on March 17.