Preview: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Club Brugge

Bayer Leverkusen must better Atletico Madrid’s result against Porto on the final Champions League matchday on Tuesday if they are to remain in Europe this season.

They will be up against Group B leaders Club Brugge, who have already secured their progression to the knockout stages for the first time in the modern era, although they need to win to ensure finishing top of Group B.

Leverkusen’s hopes of advancing to the Champions League knockout stages were ended after a 2-2 draw away to Atletico last week, which saw both teams crash out of the competition in dramatic circumstances.

Xabi Alonso’s side were twice pegged back by the hosts after Moussa Diaby and Callum Hudson-Odoi’s first half efforts, but ultimately they had their goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to thank for still having a chance of remaining in a European competition this season after he saved Yannick Carrasco’s injury-time penalty.

The final whistle had already blown before referee Clement Turpin was instructed by VAR to judge a handball incident from an Atletico corner, leading to wild scenes as the hosts struck the bar and had a strike blocked on the line after Carrasco’s effort from the spot, before the France official called time on the match for the second time.

As such, Leverkusen trail Diego Simeone’s side by one point at the bottom of Group B, although their superior head-to-head record against them means that a draw against Brugge on Tuesday would be enough to leapfrog them into third spot should Porto beat the Spanish outfit.

With his side winless in their last five matches in all competitions after their 2-0 defeat to RB Leipzig on Saturday left them in the bottom of three of the Bundesliga, Alonso may be praying for a favour from the Portuguese Primeira Liga champions in order to drop down into the Europa League rather than out of Europe altogether.

Brugge, meanwhile, know all about losing to Porto having been thrashed 4-0 at home to Sergio Conceicao’s side last week.

The Belgian First Division champions had already secured their progression to the last-16 after amassing a hugely impressive total of 10 points from their opening four matches, and they perhaps came up against a team with more motivation than them on the day as Porto ran riot to book their place in the knockout stages alongside their opponents.

However, had Noa Lang converted his penalty in the 51st minute after David Carmo’s foul, matters could have been very different with the scoreline delicately poised at 1-0 to the visitors at that point of the proceedings.

Ultimately, despite the harsh scoreline, there was little damage done with Brugge’s place in the next stage already secured, although they must win in Leverkusen if they are to be assured of top spot.

With Genk running away with things eight points clear of them in the Belgian First Division, the Champions League represents head coach Carl Hoefkens’s best chance of securing a historic legacy from this season, although in some respects that has already been achieved through their remarkable performance in the competition so far.

Bayer Leverkusen Champions League form:
Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions):
Club Brugge Champions League form:
Club Brugge form (all competitions):

We say: Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Club Brugge
There could be plenty of goals in Leverkusen on Tuesday, with neither side likely to be too motivated despite there still being loose ends to tie up in Group B.

Much will depend on the outcome of the other match in the group, but we can envisage a share of the spoils, which is only likely to suit one team on the night.

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