Champions League Betting – Bayer Leverkusen at Barcelona
Zack GarrisonNo comments
Catastrophe struck last week for Barcelona. Not only did the Blaugranes lose their first match of the year (4-1 Celta Vigo), but the club lost arguably the best player in the world Lionel Messi for two months with a torn MCL on Saturday. Barca will start life without the Little Wizard tomorrow when they host Bayer Leverkusen in UEFA Champions League action (2:45 PM Eastern at Camp Nou).
Manager Luis Enrique got a taste of life without his superstar on the weekend, as Messi had to exit the match with Las Palmas after just ten minutes. Barcelona still went onto win (2-1) but Enrique knows that finding a longterm solution won’t be easy. “We will do what we have to do without Messi, a player like him is impossible to replace,” Enrique told Goal.com. “During preseason we had matches without Messi, Neymar, we used the same plan with other players. It is a challenge to be competitive minus the best player in the world. Pretending to be able to substitute a player like Leo is impossible.”
After the loss to Celta and the win over Las Palmas, the team sits second in La Liga, one point behind Villarreal and one above Real Madrid. In the Champions League, Barcelona drew with AS Roma in their first fixture, while Bayer Leverkusen destroyed BATE Borisov, 4-1. Facing an early deficit in the standings makes tomorrow’s match all the more important for Barca. If Leverkusen can manage a draw, they would remain two points up on Barcelona and would still have a home date with left with the defending champs on the schedule.
Leverkusen didn’t get off to a strong start in the Bundesliga, and are already nine points back of league-leading Bayern Munich. But they have won three of their last four and moved up to fifth in the table with 12 points and a 4-0-3 record. The defense has been solid for the German side, but scoring has been an issue all year. The team has just seven goals through seven domestic league games. They were able to rout Borisov on the strength of four tallies, but it should be noted that Borisov gave up a Champions League-worst 24 goals in just six games last year.
The last time Barcelona face Bayer back in 2012, the Catalans routed their German foe, 7-1. This game is sure to be closer but, even without Messi, Barcelona should still take the win on home soil.
Pick: Barcelona -250.