Date: 27th February 2010
Match: Bayer Leverkusen - Köln 0-0 (Bundesliga)
Attendance: 30 210
Sometimes people ask me how I plan a trip, what matches to see and so on. This trip to Germany started when I almost by accident visited the homepage of Bayer Leverkusen the same day tickets for the Rückrunde went on General Sale and I managed to buy a ticket for the big derby against neighbours FC Köln. When fixtures for this weekend were fixed I planned the trip with the knowledge I had to be in Leverkusen by 18.30. I realize I was a bit lucky with an Europa league game on the Thursday and then the chance to see two matches on the Saturday. After spending the afternoon in Koblenz Maik and I managed to board the 15.16 train back to Leverkusen. We made a short stop at Köln Hauptbahnhof and when we continued the short train journey to Leverkusen we were accompanied by thousands of Köln supporters. When the train arrived at Leverkusen Mitte station there was a major police presence. I can´t think any other game I have attended where I have seen so many from the local police. Most of them just stood on different spots and observed us, they didn´t seem to work too hard this afternoon. After a 15 minute walk we could see the home of Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayer Leverkusen is a club founded by pharmaceutical company Bayer AG and play their matches at BayArena. The stadium was opened in 1932 with a capacity of 20 000. Back then the ground was called "Am Stadtpark" but in 1958 it was completely rebuilt and changed name to Ulrich Haberland Stadion, named after the then chairman of Bayer AG. In 1997 the stadium was renovated to a modern all-seated stadium and a year later it was renamed BayArena. After the renovation the capacity was "only" 22 500, a bit too small for a Bundesliga club, and in 2008 another renovation started which was completed in time for the 2009/2010 season. BayArena nowdays has a capacity of 30 000. For a big match, like a derby with Köln, the ground is sold-out but before but during the game I could barely hear any home supporters. The visiting fans however gave their side an impressive support. Before the trip this was supposed to be the best game but unfortunately the game ended 0-0. Both teams and a couple of good chances but all in all I was a bit disappointed with what I saw. Bayer Leverkusen aim to win Bundesliga this year but they certainly have to improve for that to happen. After the game the men in green (police) blocked off the shortest route back to Leverkusen Mitte for others than Köln supporters. Once again I could play the "I am a foreigner" card though and after tellling the young officer (in English) I don´t know this area and don´t want to get lost we were allowed to pass!
Four matches in three days came to an end but I know I will be back in Germany soon and hopefully I will get the chance to visit Schalke 04 and their impressive ground.
Rear of the South Stand
Fans outside the ground
View of play