26.09.2016Champions League

'Patience will play an important role.'

The Werkself have arrived in Monaco – in confident mood. The thrilling 3-2 away win at Mainz at the weekend provided a boost for the squad and they want to show what they can do in the Champions League on Tuesday night (20.45 CET).
© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

A tough challenge awaits at the venerable Stade Louis II in the shadow of the Rock of Monaco: AS Monaco are currently second in Ligue 1 and also head Group E in the Champions League after their 2-1 away win against Tottenham Hotspur.

"Monaco are an interesting team," said Bernd Leno at the pre-match press conference the night before the showdown. The Werkself played Monaco in the group stage two years ago losing 1-0 both at home and away. Coach Roger Schmidt clearly remembers both games. "We put in a huge amount of effort ended up with nothing," said the 48-year-old and declared the opponents' game is not change much in that time.

Bender and Calhanoglu set to return

"They don't take many risks and keep lots of players behind the ball," explained Schmidt: "Patience plays an important role against teams like that." The return of two key players in midfield, Lars Bender and Hakan Calhanoglu, comes at just the right time for the boss. Bender was unavailable at Mainz due to an ankle problem and Calhanoglu was sidelined with a bruised shin. "Hakan will very probably be back in the squad and it's looking up for Lars too," said Schmidt. A decision on Bender will come after the final pre-match training session.

The session took place straight after the press conference. Under floodlights and led out by Stefan Kießling the players came onto the pitch in front of empty stands to get a first taste of the unique atmosphere at the spacious Stade Louis II. In addition to being a football stadium it is also home to the local fencers, boxers and swimmers. Monaco home games do not attract as many fans as in German grounds with an average crowd of just over 8,000. However, that is an impressive figure given the city state only has population of 40,000.

Falcao sidelined

The Monaco coach Leonardo Jardim is only interested in the performance of his team and that has certainly in outstanding in recent weeks. Above all, the young Frenchman Thomas Lemar has impressed on the left wing and is suitably confident: "We’re well prepared for Bayer 04 and we want to get a result." Star striker Radamel Falcao will not be playing as he is still suffering from the effects of concussion.

© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

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