When the stadium opens its doors, two hours before kick-off as usual, there is an interesting event. Two former Bayer 04 pros are expected to visit the Schwadbud: Dirk Heinen, who made 107 Bundesliga appearances for the Black and Reds as the goalkeeper between 1993 and 2000, has lived with his family in Ireland for many years. Former striker Thomas Reichenberger played for Leverkusen from 1998 to 2000, making 24 Bundesliga appearances and scoring four goals. Both will definitely be available for autographs in the Schwadbud tonight.
Bayer 04 and Werder Bremen meet for the 74th time in the Bundesliga today. 29 of those games have ended all square – the Werkself have not drawn more often with any other team in the league. The Werkself have only lost once in the last nine Bundesliga fixtures against Bremen at the BayArena (three wins, five draws) – that was a 4-1 defeat on Wednesday 2 March 2016. Bayer 04 have only failed to score once in the past 15 Bundesliga matches against Werder Bremen.
The Werkself have scored in all of the past 20 Bundesliga games and that is by far the longest run in the league. The last time Bayer 04 had a longer goalscoring run in the top flight was from May 2001 to January 2002 (21 games). Interestingly, Leverkusen have scored 12 of their last 15 goals after the break. The Werkself have found the back of the net 18 times in the second 45 and that is the highest number in the league. The Werkself are unbeaten in 12 Bundesliga fixtures (five wins, five draws) – that is currently the longest run in the league. The last defeat was the 2-1 reverse at Hertha Berlin on 20 September. Leverkusen have not lost any of the last eight Bundesliga home games (three wins, five draws) and have scored at least two goals in seven of those eight matches. The last team to win at the BayArena was Schalke 04 (4-1 in April 2017).
Lars Bender has scored as many goals (two) in ten Bundesliga games under coach Heiko Herrlich as he did in 46 Bundesliga fixtures under Roger Schmidt. The Werkself captain has also provided three assists for his team. "I think I'm more settled," said Lars. "The crucial point for me is to go onto the pitch, have a good game and come off fit and healthy. Then I'm happy and grateful." The 28 year-old skipper will also be happy if Leverkusen take all three points in today's game. He said: "We want to send our fans home with a nice Christmas present after the 90 minutes in the final home game of the year."
Kai Havertz will be happy to join in. He scored his fifth Bundesliga goal against Stuttgart at the age of 18 years, five months and 27 days –only Christian Pulisic (18, 5 months, 14 days) and Max Meyer (18J, 4 months, 22 days) achieved that at a younger age. Moreover: No other team in the Bundesliga has had so many different goal scorers as the Werkself (13). On the subject of goalscorers: As a former Bremen player, Bayer 04 sporting director Rudi Völler has a special connection with today's opponents. He scored 97 of his 132 Bundesliga goals in a Werder shirt. Only Claudio Pizarro (104) and Marco Bode (101) have netted more for Werder (Frank Neubarth is also on 97).
Bayer 04 head coach Heiko Herrlich played 14 times against Werder Bremen in his Bundesliga career (four wins, six draws, four defeats) and scored five goals – he only scored more often against FC Köln, Bayern Munich (six each) and Hamburg SV (seven) .
Bayer 04 have scored the most goals in the league in counter-attacks (six) but have yet to concede any goals on the break. The Werkself will have to keep a close eye on Max Kruse. The Werder striker has been involved in the last seven goals scored by Bremen, netting four and providing three assists. Since his return to Bremen in the summer of 2016, he has been involved in 29 goals in 34 Bundesliga games (19 goals, 10 assists).
There will be no Werkself Fan talk at the Schwadbud after the match as tonight's game is a midweek fixture.
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