The dust is still settling on some terrific midweek Champions League action but more European football to look forward to on Thursday.
A total of 16 Europa League matches tonight and a host of interesting ties right across the Continent.
Currently occupying third place in the Bundesliga, Bayer have enjoyed a terrific campaign both domestically and in this competition and trailed only Bayern Munich until last Sunday’s home defeat to Borussia Dortmund.
There was no disgrace in losing 3-2 to the champions and Bayer will be pleased to get back in front of their own fans after sharing six goals at Borussia Monchengladbach last time out.
It was eight straight wins prior to that recent defeat at the BayArena and coach Sasha Lewandowski had seen his side keep an impressive six clean sheets in that period.
Scoring goals is not a problem either for Bayer, only the top two have more than their 41 in 21 matches, and they face a Benfica team that has a dreadful recent away record in Europe.
Dropping into the Europa League having seen Celtic pip them behind Barcelona in Europe’s premier club competition, Benfica have failed to win any of their previous six Champions League away games or three matches on the road in this.
Dominating in Portugal along with Porto they might be, Benfica don’t get tested at the highest level anywhere near often enough for them to challenge for top honours in Europe and I rate Bayer a good deal better than their upcoming opponents.
2pts Back Bayer Leverkusen (vs. Benfica) @ 2.20 (various)