Bayer Leverkusen Fanzone: Getting to know the 2022/23 UEFA Europa League semi-finalists
Bayer Leverkusen are bidding to win their third major trophy by going the distance in the 2022/23 UEFA Europa League. bundesliga.com tells their story...
FIVE reasons Leverkusen will beat Roma in the Europa League semi-finals!
Founded in 1904 by workers of pharmaceutical company Bayer AG, Bayer 04 Leverkusen have been regulars at the top table of German football for over half a century but missed out on the Bundesliga’s debut season in 1963/64 after finishing ninth in the previous season’s Oberliga West. It would be almost two decades in the second and third tiers before Die Werkself – or ‘workers XI’ because of their history as Bayer employees – finally made it into the Bundesliga in 1979, where they have remained ever since.
Leverkusen, who are exempt from the league’s 50+1 Rule because Bayer had backed the club financially for over 20 years, were regular European competitors by the mid-1980s and even lifted the UEFA Cup for the first and only time in 1988. The club’s greatest period of success, though, came around the turn of the millennium as the team’s all-time top scorer, Ulf Kirsten, fired Leverkusen to four second-placed finishes in six years. The last, in 2001/02, will go down as the most famous as the team led by Michael Ballack finished runners-up in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League. It was a campaign that gave rise to the club’s unfortunate nickname ‘Neverkusen’. In the years since, Leverkusen have regularly qualified for Europe. Their local rivals are Cologne, with the two clubs competing to be the ‘Force on the Rhine’.
Watch: Bayer Leverkusen up close
Bundesliga 2 champions (1978/79)
UEFA Cup (1988)
DFB Cup (1993)
Former Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Liverpool and Real Sociedad midfielder Xabi Alonso stepped in to fill the void left by Gerardo Seoane at the start of October 2022. The decorated Spaniard won major titles for club and country as a player, before taking charge of the Real Madrid youths and Sociedad reserves. The Leverkusen job is his first full-time senior coaching role.
Moussa Diaby has been a revelation since joining Leverkusen from Paris Saint-Germain in summer 2019. The France international has contributed approaching 100 goals in over 165 competitive appearances, and is Bayer's biggest goal threat in 2022/23.
Leverkusen also boast one of the best U21 players in the business in Florian Wirtz, who has put the cruciate ligament tear that forced him to miss the latter part of 2021/22 and the first half of 2022/23 well and truly behind him. The 20-year-old had a direct hand in five goals in six Europa League knockout games ahead of the Roma tie alone.
Netherlands international wing-back Jeremie Frimpong, meanwhile, has become one of the most dangerous players in Alonso's team. His nine goals and 10 assists for the 2023/23 campaign is a combined return bettered only by Diaby, and has been a real boon in the absence of the injured Schick.
Watch: The best of Moussa Diaby
Leverkusen secured a return to the UEFA Champions League group stage after finishing third in 2021/22, only five points behind runners-up Borussia Dortmund. Seoane's team rattled of 80 Bundesliga goals, with Patrik Schick accounting for 24 of them. Only Robert Lewandowski (35) scored more.
The BayArena has been the club’s home since 1958 and was known as the Ulrich-Haberland-Stadion until 1998. At the same time a hotel was built on site, which now forms the north stand and allows guests pitch-side seating. The stadium did not host a FIFA World Cup match in 2006 but was used by Germany as their base. Between 2007 and 2009 the ground was expanded to host accommodate 30,000 spectators, after which it hosted four FIFA Women’s World Cup matches in 2011. The BayArena hosted the first live coverage of a Bundesliga match in 3D when Leverkusen played Hamburg on 14 March 2010.
Mostly rural until the end of the 19th century, Leverkusen owes its name and status to chemist Carl Leverkus, who chose to build a dye factory there in 1860. The area, located just beyond the northern limits of Cologne, has become one of Germany’s most important centres for the chemical industry as home to multinational pharmaceutical company Bayer. It is one of Germany’s smallest cities but owes its fame to Bayer and its football club.
Leverkusen itself has no commercial airport but is located halfway between two of Germany’s busiest international airports: Cologne/Bonn and Dusseldorf. Both offer flights to a plethora of European cities as well as regular services to North America and Asia. For further options, Frankfurt airport is Germany’s busiest and only an hour away by high-speed ICE train. A change is necessary in Cologne, but lying directly between North Rhine-Westphalia’s two biggest cities (Cologne and Dusseldorf), Leverkusen Mitte station is served regularly by local and regional trains.
Getting to the BayArena
Coming by public transport from Cologne or Dusseldorf, Leverkusen Mitte and Leverkusen Schlebusch train stations are the closest to the BayArena. Both are within walking distance of the stadium, but local buses also run frequently on matchdays and stop directly in front of the stadium.
Tickets can still be bought via the official club website HERE.
Can’t make it? Watch here:
If you can’t make it to the stadium, Bundesliga matches are broadcast around the world. ESPN provides coverage in the United States, while BT Sports are the exclusive broadcaster in the United Kingdom. In Germany, Sky Sports show the majority of matches, with DAZN hosting one match per week.
Buy the kit
You can get your own Leverkusen jersey from the official club shop.
How Marco Rose transformed Leipzig's season
Marco Rose is the toast of Leipzig after steering his hometown club back into the Champions League and to more DFB Cup glory.
Jude Bellingham in numbers
bundesliga.com crunches the numbers behind the teenaged midfielder's stellar Dortmund stay...
5 Germany youngsters to watch at the U21 Euros
Dortmund's Youssoufa Moukoko headlines Antonio Di Salvo's provisional 26-man squad for the 2023 UEFA U21 Euros...