Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona: Holders to take lead back to Spain

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Defeat away to Osasuna at the weekend has seen Barcelona fall ten points off the pace in La Liga, meaning their main focus should turn to the Champions League, where they are 4/9 to beat Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their knock-out encounter.

Barca are 11/8 tournament favourites in the Champions League odds, and will hold no fears in their trip to Germany, for which the home side are priced a big 7/1 to score a first-leg victory.

Leverkusen did manage to win each of their three home matches in the group stage, but have yet to face a task of such magnitude that the Spanish side will provide.

The draw is 3/1 and some punters may be interested in this due to signs in domestic competition that Pep Guardiola’s men aren’t quite as invincible as it has often seemed in recent years.

The four meetings between the teams in this competition came almost ten years ago, yet Carles Puyol and Xavi featured in the games, of which Barcelona won three, and should play again in this fixture.

Sentimental punters can take advantage of the lengthy odds on offer for the players to find the net, with Xavi 10/1 to notch first, and Puyol 28/1 to get the opener, and 8/1 to bag at any time.

Diminutive Lionel Messi meanwhile, is 3/1 favourite to add to his six Champions League strikes this season with the first goal here.

It is 11/10 for the Catalan club to showcase their class from the off and maintain it throughout by leading at both half-time and full-time, while 7/4 odds for Barca to win both halves also looks appealing.

The 6/5 for the travellers to score in either half also looks a brilliant price, and many will be tempted to take the 1/1 on offer for the visitors to record a win giving up a goal start on the handicap.

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