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HUGHTON'S NOTES

Posted on 23 November 2006  - 12:00

Chris Hughton offers his assessment of tonight's UEFA Cup Group B opponents Bayer Leverkusen...

Chris Hughton offers his assessment of tonight's UEFA Cup Group B opponents Bayer Leverkusen...THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE for us against Bayer Leverkusen comes with the fact that they are the home side. Generally their shape has been a mostly a 4-4-2 at home, while they have changed it sometimes for away games - they lost at the weekend playing more of a 4-3-3 system.

In their first UEFA Cup group game against Club Brugge they altered to a shape featuring three at the back. They are a team capable of changing systems to suit the occasion, but this is a game they will want to win and they will have had the same approach as us when the draw was made. If you can win your home games and get something from the away ones you will go through.

How adventurous they will be I am not sure. I think there will be a certain amount of caution after our performance in Turkey, but they will be chasing a victory, I'm sure.

We have shown our hand a bit more with having played an extra game so far and putting on two good displays in the group stage. Leverkusen will be aware of what are about, but they are not entering the fixture in the best of form.

However, it does seem like there are teams who can raise their game for the cup competitions. You look at the three English teams in the UEFA Cup who have been up and down domestically, but are all on six points in the groups.

As far as who to look out for on the night, the two front players - Voronin and Barbarez - have played in most games. Last time out Voronin played up front with Barbarez in a bit of a wider position.

Possibly a big miss for them could be the midfielder Schneider, who has been out for the last few games. From our point of view we are hopeful that he will not be available because he is a good player, but you never know.

A player that I know very well from my time with the Republic of Ireland is Barnetta, who plays for the Swiss national team and can play left or right. Juan, the Brazilian centre half, is a quality player who has played at the highest level, while Madouni is very good at set plays and quite capable of going up and getting a goal.

You would say Leverkusen have the ability to mix up their game. They can be a passing side but also have it in them to be more direct when the situation demands.

I haven't had the opportunity to watch Leverkusen in person, but Martin is very aware of the team and the stadium. It is a very tight arena, a real football ground where they get a wonderful atmosphere.

This is a club that has done very well in Europe in recent years and there is no doubt it will be a a difficult place to go.