Bayer Leverkusen out for revenge against Monaco

AFP| Updated: Nov 25, 2014, 11:24 AM IST
Bayer Leverkusen out for revenge against Monaco

Group C leaders Bayer Leverkusen need a point against Monaco on Wednesday to take their place in the Champions League`s last 16 as they look to avenge their away defeat.

Portugal`s Joao Moutinho scored the winner in the tiny principality when Monaco celebrated their return to Europe after an absence of eight years with a 1-0 victory over Leverkusen in September.

The Monaco defeat was the only time Leverkusen have dropped points in the group stages and the hosts are just one point from the knockout phase.

"Against Monaco, we want to make our claim for a place in the knockout round," insisted Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno. 

Bayer have won all three games since losing at Monaco, defeating Zenit Saint Petersburg both home (2-0) and away (2-1), while bottom side Benfica were also beaten 3-1 at the BayArena.

Bayer will be looking to pick up where they left off three weeks ago when South Korea striker Son Heung-Min claimed his first Champions League double in their 2-1 win in St Petersburg.

With a four-point lead at the top of their group, Roger Schmidt`s Leverkusen are in pole position to reach the last-16.

Monaco have struggled since their opening day win, having been held to goalless draws at Zenit, then at home to Benfica, before losing 1-0 to the group`s bottom side in Portugal.

The stats favour a home win, especially as Monaco have failed to score in five of their last six Champions League away games.

Leonardo Jardim`s Monaco have managed just two wins in their last ten games in all competitions, and six in 18 as a whole this season.

Leverkusen, who reached the 2002 Champions League final, where they were beaten by Real Madrid, have won four of their seven games at home to French league sides and have lost just one of their last 12 matches in all competitions.

Bayer will not face Dimitar Berbatov, who played for them from 2001 until 2006, scoring 68 goals in 154 Bundesliga matches, as the Bulgarian international has a groin injury.

Leverkusen`s only casualties are midfielder Stefan Reinartz, who is nursing a fractured cheek, and defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos, who has a shoulder injury.

Brazilian left-back Wendell is set to return to the side after serving a one-game suspension having been sent off in the home win over Zenit.

Schmidt also welcomes back Simon Rolfes and Gonzalo Castro into the defensive midfield after injury.

Germany striker Stefan Kiessling will be looking to get on the scoresheet again having ended a run of 859 minutes without a Bundesliga goal as Leverkusen won 3-1 at Hannover 96 on Saturday.

Monaco have been on the rise in recent years since Russian businessmen Dmitry Rybolovlev, one of the top 120 richest people on the planet, acquired a majority stake in the club.

He invested 180 million euros of talent into the team after Monaco were promoted back to France`s top-flight in 2013 under Italian coach Claudio Ranieri.