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Bayer Leverkusen v Atletico Madrid Betting: Defences likely to dominate the early exchanges

11:19 EAT 21/02/2017
Antoine Griezmann Atletico Madrid Celta La Liga.
These two sides meet in the last 16 of the Champions League once more and after a tight tie two years ago, we are backing an even open half in Germany

For a side who have been rigourously consistent over the last few years, Atletico Madrid have been surprisingly erratic in recent games.

Two weeks ago they went to Camp Nou and were extremely unlucky in only claiming a 1-1 draw against Barcelona in a game which they dominated. Their subsequent two league matches though, have seen then put in slightly more lifeless performances, needing late goals to claim wins against Celta Vigo and Sporting Gijon.

Los Rojiblancos are finding the back of the net regularly but they are conceding as well, and their record of two clean sheets in their last eight matches is a far cry from the rigid defensive solidity we have come to expect from Diego Simeone's side. 

Waiting for last season's runners up in the last 16 of this edition of the Champions League are a side they know well, with Atleti drawing Bayer Leverkusen at this stage of the competition two years ago. That tie was decided on penalties at the Estadio Vicente Calderon, with the Spanish side triumphing after it finished 1-1 on aggregate following 1-0 home wins in both legs.

Bayer head into this season's tie as clear outsiders with the team currently eighth in the Bundesliga offered at 11/4 (3.75) with Betfair to progress to the next round. For this particular match, the German outfit can be backed at 23/10 (3.30) to win in 90 minutes while Atletico are priced at 13/10 (2.30), with the draw available at 9/4 (3.25).

Leverkusen made it through to the knockout stage finishing second in Group E with two wins and four draws; no team left in the competition has drawn more games than Roger Schmidt's men.

That form dictates that this could be another tight game, and looking at Atletico's recent record in the last 16 there are two selections that stand out. In each of the last three years, the first leg of Atleti's last 16 match has finished as a draw at half time and a repeat is offered at evens (2.00)

Furthermore not only have each of those three games been a stalemate at the break, they have also been goalless after 45 minutes (against PSV in 2016, Leverkusen in 2015 and AC Milan in 2014). While Atleti have been less predictable recently, Simeone's men will surely revert to type and try and keep things defensively tight in the opening of this two-legged tie. Another goalless opening half is priced at 29/20 (2.45) and that is surely worth some consideration. 

Under 0.5 goals first half at 29/20 (2.45) for a stake with Betfair Sportsbook