14 December 2018
The Europa League Group A clash between AEK Larnaca and Bayer Leverkusen at the Neo GSP Stadium, in Nicosia, won’t change anything for both contestants, considering the visitors already qualified for the knockout stage, while the hosts prepare to play their last European game this season.
The principal reason AEK have no chance of reaching the round of 16 is their weak start of the competition that has seen them losing both of their opening two games, including the one over Leverkusen in Germany. After two consecutive defeats, the Kitrinoprasinoi have played out two straight draws before beating Zurich 2-1 on the road last time out. Andoni Iraola’s main worry ahead of this encounter is the fact his players have managed just one clean sheet in the Europa League thus far although they’ve conceded more than one goal per match only once in the process. Additionally, the Guardians come into this meeting after two losses in a row as Iraola desperately hopes to see his men bouncing back from a difficult period.
On the other hand, the visitors currently top Group A with a record of three wins, one draw, and one loss. However, in order to preserve the first place in the group, the Company XI need to ensure all three points in Cyprus, considering they only have a one-point lead over second-placed Zurich. Both of Leverkusen’s away clashes ended with the identical 3-2 scoreline, with Heiko Herrlich’s players outplaying Ludogorets while suffering a loss to Zurich. Furthermore, the Bundesliga giants have failed to keep a clean sheet four times in their opening five matches in Europe’s second-tier competition, which could be their chief concern ahead of this trip.
Provisional line-up – AEK Larnaca:
Gk: Ramirez Defense: Gonzalez – Truyols – Ioannou – Silva de Alemida Midfield: Larena – Garcia – Hevel – Acoran Attack: Giannou – Trickovski
Provisional line-up – Bayer Leverkusen:
Gk: Ozcan Defense: Dragovic – Retsos – Wendell – Weiser Midfield: Aranguiz – Baumgartlinger – Paulinho – Bailey Attack: Alario – Thelin
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