Manuel Veth –
Leverkusen vs Juventus – Wednesday, December 11, 20:00GMT/21:00CET – BayArena, Leverkusen, Germany
After a 2-1 win over Schalke 04, Bayer Leverkusen have climbed to sixth-place in the Bundesliga standings. Even on points with Schalke and Freiburg they are now within touching reach of not just the Champions League spots but also ahead of Bayern Munich.
“The Bundesliga has become a bit more exciting because of our win,” Leverkusen director of sport Rudi Völler said after the win over Schalke to kicker. For Völler it was an important win to round up the three points the club collected against Bayern one week ago.
With two wins in their backs Leverkusen now head into the bonus game against Juventus. Die Werkself won their last two fixtures to climb up to third with six points, one behind second-placed Atlético Madrid, with Juventus unbeaten and clear at the top on 13. Leverkusen will go through if they beat Juventus and Atlético do not win at home to bottom side Lokomotiv Moscow.
Despite being eliminated early, Lokomotiv have been a capable opponent to all three sides in Group D. “We have the chance to excite people and perhaps reach the next round,” Völler said.
Juventus’ recent result against Lazio highlights that a win would not be a mission impossible for Bayer. Lazio beat Juve 3-1 and have climbed to third place. Juventus, in the meantime, have dropped to second, two points behind league leaders Inter Milan.
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It was Juventus’ first defeat in Serie A. “I thought we had a good first half, doing very, very well, but unfortunately allowed that goal right on the stroke of half-time,” head coach Maurizio Sarri said after the game. Then Juan Cuadrado was sent off and with a man down Juve struggled.
Time to regroup then in the Champions League. With Juve already qualified the Italians are unlikely to take the match to serious, which could allow Bayer Leverkusen to do their homework, the rest will be up to Lokomotiv Moscow.
Leverkusen vs Juventus – Players to look out for:
Kai Havertz #29 – Bayer Leverkusen
Kai Havertz has returned from an injury and played 71 minutes against Schalke on Saturday. In a slightly different role and without his friend Julian Brandt, Havertz has seen his productivity from last season decline. Just two goals and one assist is a far cry from the 17 goals and four assists he scored in the Bundesliga last season. Nonetheless, Havertz remains Germany’s biggest talent and is Bayer’s player to watch against Juventus.
Cristiano Ronaldo #7 – Juventus
Is it an early sign of decline? Cristiano Ronaldo has seen his form decline this season. At times brought off early by Sarri, Ronaldo has scored just six goals in 11 Serie A games and only once in five Champions League games. On top of that Ronaldo has struggled with knee problems. Ronaldo is now 34 and perhaps time is catching up with the Portuguese forward?
Leverkusen vs Juventus – Match Stats
- The Werkself have drawn seven of their last 14 European home games (W5 L2).
- In the UEFA Champions League, Leverkusen have won only two of their last eight matches at the BayArena (D4 L2).
- Leverkusen’s home record against Serie A teams is W4 D2 L3; they have won three of their last five such matches (D1 L1).
- The Matchday 2 win against Leverkusen was Juve’s first in five games against German clubs (D3 L1), and a first since a 3-0 success at Borussia Dortmund in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League round of 16, second leg (5-1 aggregate).
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Leverkusen vs Juventus – 2-1
Leverkusen vs Juventus – Lineups
Hradecky – Wendell, S. Bender, Tah, L. Bender – Baumgartlinger, Aránguiz – Bailey, Havertz, Belllarabi – Alario
Head Coach: Peter Bosz
Buffon – Alex Sandro, Bonucci, de Ligt, Cuadrado – Matuidi, Pjanić, Bentancur – Bernadeschi – Cristiano Ronaldo, Dybala
Head Coach: Maurizio Sarri
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others, contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC, and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.