13.09.2016Champions League

Bender: 'We've worked hard for the Champions League!'

Roger Schmidt and Lars Bender were at the press conference ahead of the Champions League opener against CSKA Moscow (Wed., 20.45 CET, BayArena). The last Champions League banners were being hung up as the Werkself make final preparations for the first European game of the season. CSKA Moscow are the visitors on Wednesday night and Roger Schmidt and Lars Bender spoke at the press conference the day before the first group match.
© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

Lars Bender was visibly happy at the prospect of tomorrow's game. The Werkself skipper made his views clear at the press conference: "We've worked hard to get back into the Champions League. That's why we want to make tomorrow night a great one."

Roger Schmidt adopted the same position and recalled the frenetic end to the second half of last campaign that meant not having to take part in the play-offs. "Since the referee blew for full-time against Hertha we have been looking forward to it and now it's finally here," said Schmidt who has been forced into making some changes.

Schmidt: "Volland an option"

Karim Bellarabi is ruled out of Wednesday's game after suffering a groin injury in the Hamburg match at the weekend and the same applies to Vladlen Yurchenko (hairline fracture to fibula). "Otherwise everybody else is available," said Schmidt. New signing Aleksandar Dragovic was joined by Stephan Kießling, Charles Aranguiz and Kevin Volland at the final pre-match training session. "Kevin had physical contact with his arm in training and he felt comfortable. He's an option for the squad," said Schmidt.

Joel Pohjanpalo is another obvious candidate. The hat-trick hero from the Hamburg match, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Tuesday, can be hopeful of being in the starting eleven. "Joel is a player who can play from the start in the Champions League – nothing can be ruled out," said Schmidt.

The match will be refereed by the Italian Daniele Orsato and 25,000 tickets have been sold so far. The remaining tickets go on sale when the gates are opened tomorrow night and Bayer 04 would like to remind supporters that large bags and rucksacks are not allowed in the stadium at Champions League matches

© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

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