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Sep 18, 2019 at 8pm UK at BayArena
Attendance: 26,592
B. LeverkusenBayer Leverkusen
LokomotivLokomotiv Moscow
Howedes (25' og.)
FT(HT: 1-2)
Krychowiak (16'), Barinov (37')

Preview: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Lokomotiv Moscow - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Champions League clash between Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Champions League Group D's two underdogs get their campaigns underway at the BayArena on Wednesday night as Bayer Leverkusen host Lokomotiv Moscow.

With Juventus and Atletico Madrid widely expected to battle it out for spots one and two, these sides know that the fixtures against each other could prove pivotal to their chances of upsetting the odds.

Match preview

Bayer Leverkusen manager Peter Bosz pictured in February 2019© Reuters

Not since 2016-17 have Leverkusen graced the Champions League with their presence, so Wednesday will be a welcome return to the big time for a team that finished fourth in the Bundesliga last season.

It promises to be a difficult road ahead with Juventus and Atletico Madrid - both of whom have recently reached the final of the competition - coming up in Group D, but Leverkusen have a respectable record at this stage.

Indeed, the German outfit have reached the last 16 at least in seven of their last eight campaigns and made it all the way to the final themselves in 2002, when Zinedine Zidane's iconic volley helped them on their way to defeat at the hands of Real Madrid.

It was the other Madrid side that ended their participation in their most recent Champions League outing, so there will at least be an opportunity for revenge against Atletico this time around.

Peter Bosz's side will need to improve for that to happen, though; Bayer have only won one of their last six home Champions League matches and were knocked out of the Europa League at the round-of-32 stage last season.

Lokomotiv Moscow coach Yuri Semin during the match in December 2018© Reuters

Lokomotiv may take confidence from the fact that that defeat came at the hands of Krasnodar - a team they finished above in the Russian Premier League last season to pip them to the final automatic qualifying spot for the group stages.

It is the club's second successive campaign in the tournament proper, having not appeared since 2003-04 before that, although last season saw them lose five of their six group games in a section which included Porto, Schalke and Galatasaray - a relatively kind draw by Champions League standards.

Not since 2002 have Lokomotiv won a Champions League away game - including qualifiers - while they have lost each of their last four European outings on the road.

However, despite only sitting fifth in their domestic league table Lokomotiv are five points better off than the same stage of last season, while they are coming into this match off the back of a 1-0 victory over Sochi compared to Leverkusen's 4-0 hammering at the hands of Borussia Dortmund at the weekend.

Leverkusen form: WWWDL

Lokomotiv form: WWWDLW

Team News

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz pictured in September 2018© Reuters

Kai Havertz is arguably the jewel in Leverkusen's crown nowadays, and good performances on this stage will only fuel speculation that he could be set for a big-money move next summer, with Manchester United and Liverpool among the clubs reportedly interested,

The 20-year-old is by no means Leverkusen's only attacking talent, though, with Leon Bailey and Kevin Volland providing further firepower for Bosz.

Joel Pohjanpalo is their only absentee having been sidelined since March 2018 with a string of foot injuries, although he did finally return to training during the international break.

Lokomotiv, meanwhile, are without long-term absentees Jefferson Farfan and Boris Rotenberg, both of whom are out with knee issues.

Solomon Kverkvelia and Aleksei Miranchuk are also out for this match, while manager Yuri Semin will be sweating over the fitness of Germany international defender Benedikt Howedes and Anton Miranchuk.

Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Lars Bender, Tah, Sven Bender, Wendell; Aranguiz, Havertz, Demirbay; Bellarabi, Volland, Bailey

Lokomotiv possible starting lineup:
Guilherme; Zhivoglyadov, Howedes, Corluka, Ignatyev; Zhemaletdinov, Krychowiak, Joao Mario, Barinov, Rybus; Smolov

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We say: Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Lokomotiv Moscow

Lokomotiv are one of a clutch of teams good enough to reach this stage, but usually not good enough to put up much of a battle when they get here. That is not to say that they will make things easy for Leverkusen, but the hosts should still pick up all three points.

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Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Kai Havertz pictured in September 2018
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Thursday's key events

· The women's heptathlon continues with the long jump, javelin and 800m, with Katarina Johnson-Thompson now out of contention following an injury (1.10am-1.40pm)
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· London 2012 champion Kirani James goes up against current world champion Steven Gardiner in the men's 400m final (1pm)

· One of the toughest Olympic events takes place in Tokyo Bay as GB's Hector Pardoe takes on the men's 20km marathon swim (10.30pm Wed)

· Galal Yafai takes on takes on Kazakhstan's Saken Bibossinov for a spot in the gold medal bout of the fly (48kg-52kg) class (6.48am)

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· Australia face Belgium in the men's final (11am)

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