Champions League: Leverkusen ready for upset in Madrid | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 16.03.2015
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Champions League: Leverkusen ready for upset in Madrid

With a 1-0 lead behind them, in-form Bayer Leverkusen travel to last year's competition runners-up Atletico Madrid, in the Champions League on Tuesday. Will we see a second German team through to the quarterfinals?

Before the first leg of this Champions League Round of 16 tie, Bayer Leverkusen had only one win in five games. They were stumbling towards their biggest game of the season, whilst opponents Atletico Madrid had three wins in five and were free-scoring. But, since the Pharmaceuticals' 1-0 triumph in Germany three weeks ago, Roger Schmidt's side have won four in a row without conceding in a dramatic turnaround, and Atletico has scored only once in four games, of which three were draws.

Despite wins coming against three teams fighting for relegation and second-tier Kaiserslautern, Bayer Leverkusen come into Tuesday's blockbuster tie with nothing to fear. Improving with every game, they have won their last four games 1-0, 2-0, 3-0 and finally 4-0 against Stuttgart on Friday. Schmidt took action after a poor start to 2015, chopping and changing his side in a bid to rediscover the balance they had starting the season.

"We need a super game, but we'll head down there with a lot of self confidence for the second leg," said Schmidt after Leverkusen's win over Stuttgart on Friday.

Champions League Bayer Leverkusen Atletico Madrid

Kyriakos Papadopoulos is loving life in Leverkusen

"We're still the underdogs, but we've shown that we have a good chance. There will be a lot of emotion in the stadium, so we know we'll have to keep cool heads in order to make the right decisions."

Josip Drmic has grasped the opportunity of starting ahead of misfiring Stefan Kiessling, scoring twice in the win over Stuttgart. Heung Min-Son, Karim Bellarabi and Hakan Calhanoglu have continued to flourish in the attacking style that allows them to show off each game. In defense, the resurgance of Kyriakos Papadopoulos and emergance of Wendell have breathed new life into the fourth-placed Bundesliga side.

Atletico, on the other hand, has fallen off the pace in La Liga. Slipping nine points behind league leaders Barcelona at the weekend in a stalemate with Espanyol gives added pressure for a triumph on Tuesday, at the Vicente Calderon stadium.

"In football there are moments in a season where sometimes you are more deadly in front of goal than others," the team's coach Diego Simeone told reporters following the 0-0 draw at Espanyol on Saturday. "Sometimes the goal comes easily and other times you have loads of good chances and it doesn't go in."

"We need to keep going, roll up our sleeves and work hard because that is the only way we know how to improve."

Atletico Madrid-Trainer Diego Simeone

Atletico lost last year's Champions League final

Ex Bayern striker Mario Mandzukic and Antoine Griezmann are without goals since February 21, and for the first time since Diego Simeone took over in 2011, the team have gone three consecutive away games in La Liga without a goal. Poor discipline has cost them in their recent slump, with three red cards in the last five games, including Tiago's at the BayArena which rules him out of this game.

Atletico will also be without Uruguayan defender Diego Godin who is suspended, as well as midfielder Saul who has a back injury. Bayer Leverkusen will be boosted by the return of captain Lars Bender, who told reporters at the airport Monday "I am fully operational."

Robbie Kruse (ankle) and Tin Jedvaj (hamstring) remain out with injury.

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