Europa League – Bayer 04 Leverkusen v FC Krasnodar – Round of 32

Next up in our continuing coverage of Europa League is a match between clubs that are still pretty much equal in their odds of advancing, especially after a scoreless draw in Leg 1 last week. However, Bayer 04 Leverkusen has the advantage because they have the pleasure of hosting the rubber match against FC Krasnodar.

The match kicks off from BayArena in Leverkusen, Germany, on Thursday, 21 February at 8:00pm GMT (3:00pm EST).

What Happened in Leg 1

It wasn’t a lack of effort that kept Leg 1 scoreless. The clubs combined for 23 total attempts on goal, and had seven shots deemed on target. It’s simply that keepers Stanislav Kritsyuk and Lukáš Hrádecký and the defenses in front of them kept the ball in front of them, with the Krasnodar defense blocking six Leverkusen shots.

The favored Germans probably should have won this one, maintaining possession 67% of the match and completing nearly three times as many passes (651 v 222) much more accurately (87% to 71%). But Krasnodar somehow found a way to escape with the scoreless draw, and still has a pretty good chance of advancing to the Round of 16, and hope to improve on their 1-1-5 overall record against German clubs.

What the Experts are Saying

After the draw, Leverkusen’s odds of advancing actually dropped a bit – from 58% to 55% – according to FiveThirtyEight. This is likely due to the fact that Krasnodar advances in the event of another draw – unless it is 0-0 yet again – because of away goals. Leverkusen failed to score on the road, the best way to improve odds of advancing, especially for the home club in the second leg.

What We’re Thinking

Neither club has really lit the world on fire this season, and it’s even harder to get excited after a scoreless draw the first time around. Nevertheless, I’m giving the edge to the home club in this one, and expect them to advance on to the Round of 16. Leverkusen is still given a 4% chance of winning the whole thing (Krasnodar is at 2%), and their future success in the tournament will be heavily dependent on the draw in the next round.

Until next time…

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