Bayer 04 Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen is a Bundesliga team based in the city of Leverkusen, in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia. The club has never won the Bundesliga, having finished as runners-up on five occasions, but have one DFB-Pokal and one UEFA Cup win to their name.

Bayer Leverkusen were founded in 1904 by employees of the Bayer pharmaceutical company, and thus its origins were as a works team for the employees of Bayer. Bayer 04 won their first major honour in 1988, when the won the UEFA Cup. Having been down 3-0 to Espanyol after the first leg of the final, the team staged a dramatic comeback to win the second leg 3-0, and then won the title on a penalty shootout.

Following German reunification in 1990, the club signed a number of East German football stars, and this helped them win their second major trophy, with a DFB-Pokal win in 1993. The club, however, gained a reputation for being ‘nearly men’, owing to four second-place finishes in the Bundesliga between 1997 and 2002. Further, the 2001-02 season was especially heartbreaking, as the club finished second in the Bundesliga, and lost in the final of the DFB-Pokal as well as the UEFA Champions League, leading some English media outlets to name them ‘Neverkusen’. In addition, a number of Leverkusen players would suffer further heartbreak later that year while playing for Germany, losing in the final of the FIFA World Cup to Brazil.

Leverkusen’s stadium is called the BayArena, where they have played since 1958. It was originally called the Ulrich-Haberland-Stadion, before being given its current name in 1998. The ground has a capacity of a little over 30,000. The club’s colours are red and black, while they have a local rivalry with FC Koln.

Bayer 04 Leverkusen’s first-team is currently managed by Peter Bosz. The Dutchman was appointed in December 2018, and has previously managed Leverkusen’s rivals Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. He made his name as manager of Dutch side Ajax, guiding them to the final of the UEFA Europa League in 2017 where they were beaten by Manchester United. The current club captain is Lars Bender, who joined the club in 2009. His twin brother, Sven Bender, also plays for the club. One of the most exciting players in the Leverkusen squad is 20-year-old German Kai Havertz. He became the youngest player to play in the Bundesliga for the club when he made his debut aged 16, and he also became their youngest-ever goalscorer the next year. He also holds the records for the youngest player to play 50 games and 100 games in the Bundesliga for any club.

Bayer Leverkusen were challenging for a place in next year’s UEFA Champions League this season, when the league was suspended. At the time of suspension, they were in fifth place, two points behind fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach.