15.09.2015 02:15 h

Bayer bid to brush off poor start at home to BATE

Bayer Leverkusen are looking for a European fillip to their domestic troubles when they open their Champions League campaign at home to Belarus' BATE Borisov on Wednesday.

Leverkusen have a strong record at this stage of the Champions League and with holders Barcelona also in Group E they know that starting with three points at the BayArena is crucial against the pool's minnows.

Bayer have reached the last 16 stage of the competition for the last two seasons and qualified for their third straight campaign by winning a play-off.

Despite beating Lazio over two legs to book their group stage place, Leverkusen have struggled for form at in the Bundesliga with two wins and two defeats, including Saturday's shock 1-0 loss at home to newly-promoted Darmstadt.

The defeat left them 13th in the table while BATE are top of their domestic league.

Finalists in 2002, Bayer's key new arrival is Mexican striker Javier Hernandez, snapped up from Manchester United -- the side they ousted in the 2002 semi-finals -- after the sale of South Korea striker Son Heung-Min to Tottenham Hotspur.

The Mexico forward made his debut in the second-half of the Darmstadt defeat, but left the field disgruntled.

"I was delighted to make my debut, but not with the result," Hernandez admitted.

Leverkusen are set to be without Germany defender Roberto Hilbert after the right-back injured his knee in the Darmstadt defeat.

BATE may be European minnows but their form is been strong in 2015, having lost just three times in 33 matches, while goalkeeper Sergei Chernik has kept 14 clean sheets in 18 league appearances.

They are eight points clear at the top of the table after 19 matches.

BATE came through three qualifying rounds to reach the Champions League group stages, beating Ireland's Dundalk FC, Hungary's Videoton and Serbia's Partizan Belgrade.

Aleksandr Yermakovich's side won all three home games in those ties, but are still seeking an away victory.

BATE have one player well-known outside his homeland in ex-Arsenal and Barcelona forward Alekander Hleb, 34, who is winding down his career back in his native country.

He was taken off during Saturday's 1-1 draw against Shakhtyor Soligorsk to preserve him for Bayer.

"We need to spare him for the important game in Leverkusen," explained Yermakovich.

BATE may be feeling confident as their best moment in Europe came against a German side as they shocked Bayern Munich 3-1 at home back in October 2012, although the Bavarian giants went on to win the Champions League later that season.