Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid: Clean sheets back in fashion

Diego Godin specialises in the art of keeping clean sheets
Diego Godin specialises in the art of keeping clean sheets

Both teams scored in four of the first six round-of-16 ties. Michael Lintorn suspects that neither will at the BayArena...

"Atletico Madrid closed a relatively testing Champions League group with five successive clean sheets."
Best Bet: Back Atletico Madrid to keep a clean sheet @ 2/12.94

Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid
Wednesday, 19:45
Live on Sky Sports 1

Bayer Leverkusen

The Bundesliga is the best represented division in the Champions League knockout phase with all four of its participants reaching the round-of-16, but the three clubs who finished above Bayer Leverkusen in 2013/14 have all failed to win their first legs, scoring one goal between them.

Leverkusen face last year's runners-up with one of their defenders definitely out - Omer Toprak is suspended - and another doubtful in the 19-year-old Croatian Tin Jedvaj. There are also concerns further forward with Robbie Kruse expected to sit out and Lars Bender not certain to feature.

Atletico Madrid

It was always going to be near impossible for Diego Simeone's heroes to top their 2013/14, in which they extraordinarily won La Liga and reached the Champions League final (leading that until injury time), though they are giving it a hell of a go.

They lifted the Supercopa de Espana at Real Madrid's expense, escorted them out of the Copa del Rey too (they have faced their esteemed neighbours six times this season without losing), retain an outside chance of retaining their title and won their Champions League group with relative ease.

Whatever happens at the BayArena, injuries are unlikely to be their undoing. Coveted midfielder Koke is their sole confirmed absentee and they have defeated Real Madrid and prevailed away to Athletic Bilbao without him in the starting side at various points since December.

Match Odds: Bayer Leverkusen 9/43.25, Atletico Madrid 8/52.58, The Draw 9/43.25

Neither of this preview's two recommended bets are going to come from this market because there are reasons to be wary of backing either team.

Leverkusen are in disappointing domestic form, achieving one win in seven and going four games without success as hosts.

The club derided as Neverkusen for their close-but-not-close enough tendencies (five second places in the Bundesliga and one in the Champions League, yet no titles) have choked in recent knockout ties, folding 6-1 on aggregate against Paris St-Germain last term and 10-2 to Barcelona in 2011/12.

You might think that leaves an Atletico victory nailed on, but not necessarily. They were denied wins at Olympiacos and Juventus in Group A, and have triumphed once in five road trips in all competitions.

Consequently, the draw appears the most attractive option at 9/43.25, especially as Atletico have drawn four of their latest eight Champions League fixtures away from the Calderon.

Atletico Madrid Clean Sheet

There was no real hangover to last summer's final heartache for Atletico Madrid, who closed a relatively testing Champions League group with five successive clean sheets. Their route to Lisbon last season was built on a similar base of six shutouts, including two in three knockout first legs.

Leverkusen fired blanks in three of their six outings in one of the tamer groups, including in both of their final two encounters (at home to Monaco and away to Benfica), and also did so in the home leg of their round-of-16 clash with Paris St-Germain 12 months ago.

Correct Score

Leverkusen are the Bundesliga's joint-most prolific home drawers with six in 11 matches and Atletico have only beaten one top-half La Liga companion on their travels in 2014/15, strengthening the case for the draw.

Both sides drew their previous Champions League games 0-0, with Leverkusen doing so away to Benfica and Atletico partaking in a stalemate at the Juventus Stadium, so a bore draw punt is certainly worth considering.

Best Bet: Back Atletico Madrid to keep a clean sheet @ 2/12.94
Other Recommended Bet: Back the 0-0 draw @ 8/19.0

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