The Champions League has moved into the business end of the competition with German side, Bayer Leverkusen set to host Spanish club Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their round of 16 tie later tonight.
The Spanish club looked good in the group stages as they collected 13 points from a group, which consisted of Juventus, Olympiakos FC and Malmo FF. Atletico topped the group, while Bayer Leverkusen finished second in another group, which granted them a place in the knock-out stages.
Both the teams are in a decent position in their domestic competitions with Atletico Madrid lying on the third position in the La Liga with 17 wins from 24 games, while Bayer Leverkusen lie on sixth position in the Bundesliga.
With the games moving into the knock-out stages, there is no clear favourite for the game, as a simple mistake here or there could make them inch closer to the exit door, though the fixture is going to be played across two legs – home and away.
The first leg is always going to be crucial.
"There are no easy games anymore," BBC quoted Atletico's midfielder Tiago as saying. "They attack with a lot of men and they're very dangerous. I'm sure we're going to suffer but hopefully, we can advance to the next round."
For Leverkusen to advance into the next round, they need their top players including Mario Mandzukic, Antoine Griezman and Arda Turan to fire. The Madrid side finished runners-up last season and would be eager to win the title this season.
It is very important for Leverkusen's defensive pair of Emir Spahic and Kyriakos Papadopoulos to stop one of the most dangerous pair up front in Europe, Mandzukic and Griezmann, as they have been creating havoc, when allowed to play to their strengths.
The German club might play a high pressing game, but they need to be careful as to not allow the Madrid strike force to break on the counter.
But, it also boils down to the ploy that the respective managers use during the night.
One look at recent form in all competitive matches reflect that Bayer Leverkusen have not been doing great as they have only won one in their last six games as compared to Atletico's who have won four out of their last six games.
Leverkusen coach, Roger Schmidt believes that the Champions League game will help them as well. "The Champions League is the best thing there is," he said. "We are really looking forward to it and it will help us."
Where to Watch Live
The round of 16 clash between Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid is scheduled for a 7:45pm GMT (1:15am IST, 2:45pm GMT) start with live TV coverage in India on Ten Sports.
People in Germany can watch it live on Sky Sport 2/HD and Spanish viewers can watch it on C+ Liga de Campeones / HD