The return to his native Germany and his former club of former national team captain Michael Ballack has been this summer’s major coup for Leverkusen.
Coach Jupp Heynckes, who took Leverkusen to fourth in the Bundesliga in his first season, will be looking to Ballack to help restore old glories to the team, who were the “nearly men” of German football during Ballack’s previous spell at the BayArena.
Ballack may provide more evidence to support the theory that “you should never go back.” But the 33-year-old former Bayern Munich and Chelsea star has a lot to prove and a lot to regain after missing this summer’s World Cup through injury and losing the German captaincy in the process.
Heynckes certainly has faith in his squad’s mix of experience and youth. Leverkusen fell away towards the end of last season after a terrific start. But Heynckes believes that the side still has “huge potential” and that youngsters such as “Daniel Schwaab, Stefan Reinartz and Lars Bender will make further steps in their development.”
A Brief History
Bayer Leverkusen was formed in 1904 by a bunch of workers looking for an athletic club to help relieve stress after work. The team did not fully establish its place in the Bundesliga until the late-1970s. After they became a regular fixture in Germany’s highest league, Leverkusen came close to winning the title on several occasions although it still eludes them. The team won the UEFA Cup in 1988 and the German Cup in 1993 on its way to becoming one of the consistent performers in the Bundesliga. They make regular appearances in European competition.
Bayer Leverkusen plays its home games in what is now the New BayArena, their home since 1958. Once one of the smaller stadiums in Germany, its 20.000 or so capacity ruled it out of hosting games during the 2006 World Cup but a recent uplift and refurbishment has seen that rise to 28,000.
Tags: Michael Ballack, Bayer Leverkusen, Bundesliga, UEFA Cup