Bayer Leverkusen vs AS Monaco Preview: Top two look to finish with a flourish with Group E already decided

Bayer Leverkusen vs AS Monaco Preview: Top two look to finish with a flourish with Group E already decided

Both Leverkusen and Monaco are already through to the knockout stages. and with the latter confirmed as group winners it seems that pride is all that's at stake tomorrow evening.

jack-mcgraghan
Jack McGraghan

Tomorrow evening sees the UEFA Champions League come to a close for two members of Group E, while Bayer Leverkusen and AS Monaco have progressed to the knockout stages of the competition and face off in a match that feels more akin to a friendly with everything in the group already decided.

The hosts will remain top of the group regardless of tomorrow's result thanks to the four point gap they hold over the second placed Bundesliga side, and in turn Leverkusen cannot be caught by Tottenham thanks to their superior head-to-head record over the North London side.

Bayer 04 suffering from inconsistent form as of late

It has been a mixed bag of results throughout the whole season for Roger Schmidt's men, who currently lie in ninth position in the Bundesliga after a below par campaign thus far.

Two draws and two defeats from their last four games in all competitions has left them desperately needing a confidence boost, and tomorrow's match could be just the place to get it under the lights at the BayArena.

When it comes to the club's Champions League form, they remain undefeated going into the final group match although their four draws have prevented them from pipping Monaco to top spot with the Ligue 1 side now just out of reach.

Former Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez is the main source of goals in the side with seven to his name across all competitions, although players such as Kevin Volland and Hakan Calhanoglu also provide a threat going forward for the hosts.

Red and Whites hoping to continue their unbeaten streak

Whilst Bayer Leverkusen's form has been patchy in recent weeks, Monaco have enjoyed scintillating form across all competitions over the course of the season, losing just two games in addition to their current ten game unbeaten run.

Leonardo Jardim's men defeated Tottenham 2-1 in their last Champions League match and were disappointed not to have won by a bigger margin, with only the gloves of Hugo Lloris preventing the scoreline becoming more comfortable on the day.

Monaco remain unbeaten in the Champions League this season much like their opponents, but their record of three wins and two draws has set them apart from their German counterparts in Group E.

Like their opponents, Monaco boast a former Manchester United striker in Radamel Falcao, and the Colombian has helped to fire the Red and Whites to 2nd place in Ligue 1 with seven league goals as well as two goals in the Champions League so far.

The French side also possess young players such as the 22-year-old Bernardo Silva and 21-year-old Thomas Lemar within their ranks, and the Leverkusen defence will have to keep their focus if they wish to be just the second team to keep a clean sheet against Monaco this season.

Monaco have had the edge over their rivals in recent encounters

The two sides have of course already met in this season's Champions League, but they also met in the 2014 and 1997 iterations of the competition and in those games it was largely Monaco who came out on top.

They defeated Leverkusen by a 1-0 scoreline in both group matches in 2014 thanks to goals from Lucas Ocampos and Joao Moutinho, and in 1997 they thumped the Germans 4-0 at home before settling for a 2-2 draw in the second group match in Germany.

Late drama was the major talking point of the most recent match between the two however, with Kamil Glik's injury time equaliser cancelling out Hernandez's opener in order to ensure that the spoils were shared in the second round of Group E matches.

Team news

There may well be changes for both sides going into tomorrow's game considering there is nothing up for grabs other than pride, with a focus on the league perhaps the primary aim for the two until the knockout stages get underway.

The hosts have several injuries to contend with at the moment, with Karim Bellarabi, Lars Bender, Stefan Kießling and Joel Pohjanpalo all injured. Kevin Kampl is the latest player to suffer from injury for Leverkusen, with their Slovenian hit by a foot injury that will see him miss the rest of 2016 in a blow that Kampl described as "bitter news".

Fortunately for Leonardo Jardim, Monaco have a fully fit squad to select from for tomorrow's match although changes are likely to be made given that they have already secured top spot in the group.

Predicted line-ups

Bayer Leverkusen (4-4-2): Ozcan; Jedvaj, Tah, Toprak, Wendell; Mehmedi, Baumgartlinger, Aranguiz, Calhanoglu; Hernandez, Volland.

AS Monaco (4-4-2): De Sanctis; Mendy, Glik, Diallo, Raggi; Lemar, Fabinho, Moutinho, Silva; Germain, Falcao.

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