Tottenham Hotspur vs Bayer Leverkusen Preview: Three points needed for each side in tight Group E

Tottenham Hotspur vs Bayer Leverkusen Preview: Three points needed for each side in tight Group E

Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs will lock horns with Bayer Leverkusen once again, with a view of winning their first game in four outings.

Kaustubh Pandey

In what is expected to be another interesting tactical battle, the Premier League's only unbeaten side Tottenham Hotspur will take on one of Bundesliga's inconsistent sides - Bayer Leverkusen - in the Champions League at Wembley on Wednesday evening.

The previous meeting of these two sides took place at the BayArena two weeks ago, as Spurs were held to a 0-0 draw by Roger Schmidt's men, who clearly were the better side in a tactical game. And it was Roger Schmidt, who had seemingly come out on top in the much-awaited clash of two of the best young managers in world football.

Die Werkself struggle for consistency

Currently as low as tenth in the Bundesliga table, the start to the season has been a rocky one, filled with moments worth remembering and those worth forgetting in equal share. The DFB Pokal second round ousting at the hands of minnows Sportfuende Lotte and the embarrassing 3-0 hammering at the hands of high-flying Hoffenheim have certainly come in as a disappointment to the German giants, who are falling short of top four spots.

The brightest moment of their season has been their impressive triumph over Borussia Dortmund, which saw Schmidt's men run out 2-0 winners at BayArena. Goals from Admir Mehmedi and Chicharito in either halves of the game had stunned BVB, but since then, things haven't been right for Leverkusen. The recent comeback win over struggling Wolfsburg will surely act as an impetus to get back on track.

Leverkusen have conceded as many as 13 goals in the Bundesliga this season, letting in four in the Champions League. Unlike Tottenham though, Leverkusen have failed to win a single game in the group stages, playing three consecutive draws.

In terms of finding the back of the net, the men from the eastern back of river Rhine haven't enjoyed too much luck. They scored 13 times this campaign, making their league goal difference zero, with Chicharito grabbing five out of the 13.

Leverkusen's away from has been disappointing though, as they've won only two of their league games at venues far from home. But what comes as an encouragement for Leverkusen is that the cavernous Wembley stadium is something Spurs seem over-awed by. Their first home Champions League game against Monaco, who ended in a 2-1 defeat, clearly showed that they're missing the White Hart Lane atmosphere. And reinvigorating the noisy atmosphere would be tough and Leverkusen would look to take full advantage of that.

Lilywhites look to end draw streak

Spurs, who are alongside the likes of Bayern Munich, Koln, Leipzig and Nice, happen to be the only unbeaten side in the Premier League. Their last win in all competitions came during their 2-0 win over Manchester City, that saw Dele Alli and a Aleksandar Kolarov own goal hand Tottenham a vital win over their title rivals.

Draws against Tony Pulis' West Bromwich Albion, Leverkusen away, Bournemouth and the recent stalemate against Leicester City, have left Spurs at the fifth place on the table. A lack of goals and crucial exclusions of Toby Alderweireld and Harry Kane have played a massive role in the recent slump. With a titanic North London derby coming up at the Emirates, keeping players fit and firing has been a priority for Mauricio Pochettino.

Spurs have conceded the least amount of goals in the Premier League this season, letting in only five goals till now and scoring fourteen times. Their goal difference of nine clearly brings to the fore a deficiency in the number of goals scored, with new signing Vincent Janssen still getting to grips with the demands of his new league.

Korean superstar- Heung min Son, who will come up against his former club once again, is currently Tottenham's leading scorer with four goals and the contributions of Dele Alli have been handy too.

Spurs have never been beaten by their German opposition in the past, winning both encounters in the 2006-07 campaign by a one goal margin. But what would act as a statistic that would spur them on is the fact that Leverkusen have won only two of their last 24 Champions League away outings.

Key injury worries hurting Spurs

As mentioned previously, Tottenham's recent slump in form is also down to the absences of key duo Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld, who won't feature against Leverkusen at Wembley. Kane limped off the pitch during Spurs' 1-0 win over Sunderland at White Hart Lane around a month ago, while Alderweireld was stretchered off after the big Belgian suffered a knee ligament injury against West Bromwich Albion.

Moussa Sissoko will be allowed to feature after the English FA had imposed a ban on the Frenchman for elbowing Bournemouth star Harry Arter two weeks ago, one that doesn't apply to European competition.

Leverkusen, on the other hand, still have a couple of absences to deal with as Joel Pohjanpalo is still recovering from the metatarsal fracture while the dynamic Karim Bellarabi will return only next year, after he sustained a torn muscle bundle problem back in September.

Janssen and Alli key for Spurs

Vincent Janssen, who has scored only once in the Premier League so far, is currently filling in for Harry Kane in an barely convincing fashion. The Dutchman, who was the Eredivisie's highest goalscorer last season, is still finding his feet in the Premier League, but his overall play has been commendable. His tremendous work rate and get in behind defenses is something which makes him a threat. And after recovering a bit of form against Leicester, the onus of getting the goals falls on him.

And Dele Alli, who has scored thrice and has assisted once so far this season, will look to provide Janssen with enough amount of service to help his side get the goals that they would need to oust a quality opposition.

And above all, the game would revolve a lot around high-pressing and who prefers to sit back and defend rather than keep possession. Schmidt brought on Julian Baumgartlinger in the second half at the BayArena to unsettle the Spurs midfield and allow the likes of Chicharito, Mehmedi and Kevin Kampl to press with more freedom. And that almost paid off.

Leverkusen had succeeded in overrun the Spurs midfield, which has dominated most of the Premier League sides over the past one or two years, clearly implying that the German side deserved to win the clash more than their English counterparts. But this time around, with the enormous structure of the Wembley Stadium towering above them, it will be a different ball game altogether.

Predicted Line-ups

Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama, Dembele; Eriksen, Alli, Son; Janssen

Bayer Leverkusen XI: Leno; Henrichs, Tah, Toprak, Wendell; Brandt, Aranguiz, Kampl, Calhanoglu; Kiessling, Hernandez.