The top two sides in Group E meet with their fates decided - Monaco will go through as group winners, while Bayer Leverkusen will advance by finishing in second. That being said, don’t look for either team to risk too much. The first meeting ended 1-1 and both sides would gladly take a similar result and no injuries. Monaco are riding a 10 match unbeaten streak and sit in first on goal difference in Ligue 1 - their attention will surely be back at home as they prepare for a match against seventh-placed Bordeaux next weekend. Likewise, Bayer’s concerns are domestic, but for dissimilar reasons as they sit in 9th in a very tight Bundesliga where they have failed to win in three matches. It would be dishonest to pretend this match is of any importance for either side - expect them to go through the motions with progression to the knockout stage guaranteed.
Bayer are a mainstay in the top four of the Bundesliga, but have not made a deep run into the Champions League since they were runners-up in 2002. While a return to those heights is too ambitious for this squad, they are still dangerous enough to be playing late into the spring. Led by a rejuvenated Chicharito, who scored five goals in six Champions League appearances last year, and backed by a defense who only allowed 40 goals in the Bundesliga last season, this is a squad with the ability to take down some giants.
Runners-up in the Champions League in 1994, the principality’s club spent last season in the Europa league while finishing third in Ligue 1. Monaco struggled to find a reliable threat up top last season with Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar joint top scorers in the league with five goals apiece. To that end, Falcao is back from his disappointing loans in the Premier League with hopes to revive his career. Otherwise, Les Rouges et Blancs will look to the Portuguese duo of João Moutinho and the aforementioned Silva to control matches and create chances. They’ll face a difficult, but not impossible group which will include a trip to Moscow and matchups against Spurs and Bayer Leverkusen.
The former Manchester United striker's career was revived upon his arrival at Bayer, where he scored 26 goals in his first season.
A lethal free kick specialist, just watch the highlight video above.
The versatile midfielder has made nearly 100 appearances for both the Portuguese national team and Monaco.
Scored 11 goals in 19 appearances in his last season at Monaco, before being injured in halfway through the season.