Group E of the UEFA Champions league continues to be the most interesting and exciting of all groups after the first 3 rounds. Bayer Leverkusen welcomed the visiting English side Tottenham Hotspur. Both teams needed a win but they knew that they couldn’t afford to lose, as it would mean reduce their chances of qualifying for the next round.
The hosts, Bayer Leverkusen, who made their 4th straight group stage appearance, have entered this match after a slow start in the Bundesliga, where they currently hold the 10th spot. However, Leverkusen is a tough cookie at the Bayer Arena where they have not been defeated since March, while in the European competitions they have not been defeated in 8 straight games at home. Despite their great form at home, the German side has not had much success against English clubs, suffering defeats in 9 of their last 10 games.
Bayer Leverkusen Starting lineup: Leno, Bender, Tah, Omer Toprak, Henrich, Mehmedi, Aranguiz, Kampl, Hakan, Kiessling, Hernandez
Tottenham Hotspur Starting lineup: Lloris, Trippier, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose, Wanyama, Alli, Lamela, Eriksen, Son, Janssen
On the other side, Mauricio Pochettino, in just his third Champions league match of his coaching career, hoped to keep his team undefeated and keep the great form of his team rolling. In the last 8 games in the English Premier league the Hotspur have not seen a defeat, which is their best start of the season since the 1960/1961 season, in which they won the title. In addition, the visitors have scored at least 1 goal in 21 consecutive games, and suffered only 1 loss in all competitions this season (Monaco 1:2).
One of the players that has been magnificent so far this season for the English club is Heung-Min Son, who has close ties to the hosting Bayer Leverkusen. Namely, Son has spent two years playing for the German team before joining the Hotspur in a deal worth £18.8m move in 2014. Although he was linked with many teams during the past summer, Son decided to stay put with the Hotspur, which was probably the best decision, as he scored 5 goals in seven games, before being named as the player of the month for September.
Anyways, the referee Cuneyt Cakir blew the whistle to signal the start of the game, and the fans at the Bayer Arena hoped for a spectacular evening and great soccer match.
Roger Schmidt, the coach of Bayer Leverkusen, started the match with two strikers upfront and a very offensively oriented lineup. Right from the beginning of the match both teams were creating the pressure on the opposing players, trying to force some mistakes and to create some counter attacks.
First excitement of the match came in the 10th minute as the visitors found the back of the net, but the goal from Janssen was disallowed as Son was signaled in off-side.
Although the hosts were putting more pressure on the ball, the visitors created better chances. It was the 27th minute of the game when Tottenhem created another lovely chances as Delle Ali found himself in close range but his header went just pass the left bar. Kieran Trippier fired a lovely cross from the right side.
Once again, the visitors came close to scoring in the 39th minute as Janssen hit the bar, and Lamela followed up the deflected ball only to be denied by a superb save by Leno.
The first half of the game was not too spectacular, as both teams came out cautious and showed a lot of nervousness. The referee Cuneyt Cakir showed 3 yellow cards in the first 45 minutes. However, it must be noted that the visitors created better chances and came really close to scoring on couple of occasions, dominating the last minutes of the first half.
The second half kicked off and it took only couple of minutes before the fans jumped off their seat, as Chicharito found himself in a scoring chance in the 50th minute, claiming that his shot has crossed the goal line. However, Hugo Lloris was alert keeping the ball just on the line, which was later confirmed by the Goal Technology slow motion replay.
The hosts came close to scoring once again in the 58th minute but Lloris denied the fierce shot from Aranguiz, while Rose was at the right spot twice after the connecting corner kick.
As the game was coming to the last 15 minutes, both teams decided to hold the possession of the ball in the middle of the pitch and be patient with their attacks.
Bayer Leverkusen saw couple of more chances in the closing minutes, but Kiessling was unable to adjust his feet on time and his shot ended only few inches wide of the visitors’ goal.
With the Final whistle blown by Cakir, we can conclude that both Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham Hotspur have played out a fairly entertaining goalless draw. Tottenham saw more chances in the first half, but had to hold on in the second half as the hosts were much better
Although the weather conditions were not perfect, as it was raining constantly, the fans at the Bayer Arena can be satisfied from what they saw. Both teams played a perfect strategically executed game and kept their goal clean, winning 1 point each.
After 3 rounds the situation in Group E is as following:
- Monaco has 5 points,
- Tottenham has 4 points,
- Leverkusen has 3 points,
- CSKA Moscow has 2 points