Europe: Europa League
2 - 2
(2 - 0)
Y. Benzia (26), Juninho (45)
F. Wirtz (70), P. Schick (90)
By Rune Gjerulff@runegjerulff

Qarabag vs. Bayer Leverkusen preview: Team news and predicted lineups

Here is our preview of Thursday's Europa League round of 16 first leg clash between Qarabag and Bayer Leverkusen, including predicted lineups.
Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen continue their European campaign on Thursday when they travel to Azerbaijan for the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie with FK Qarabag.

The two teams are no strangers to each other, having previously met in the group stage of the tournament. Leverkusen won both matches, 1-0 away and 5-1 at home, but that doesn't mean Die Werkself are taking the game lightly.

"It is the round of 16 now, not the group stage. We have to play smart to get a good result. We know them, they know us," said Bayer Leverkusen captain Xabi Alonso at his pre-match press conference on Wednesday.

"Qarabag are very strong in attack, with a lot of lively players. In defense they are a bit more vulnerable. But it will be a difficult game, not as easy as many people think," added Robert Andrich, sitting next to Xabi Alonso.

As has been customary for Leverkusen in the Europa League this season, Matej Kovar will start in goal, with Lukas Hradecky dropping to the bench.

Compared to Sunday's 2-0 win over Köln, Odilon Kossounou could start in place of Josip Stanisic, while Amine Adli could come into the starting eleven at the expense of either Jonas Hofmann or Patrik Schick.

Meanwhile, Exequiel Palacios is pushing for a start after working his way back from injury, but Xabi wouldn't confirm whether the Argentina international will start or not.

Arthur and Victor Boniface are the only absentees for Leverkusen. Qarabag will be without Elvin Cafarquiliyev (suspension) and Julio Romao, while Kevin Medina is doubtful.

Click here to see our predicted Qarabag vs. Leverkusen lineups.

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