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4.09.2021Europa League

Europa League: Profiles of Werkself’s opponents

Bayer 04 Leverkusen face Celtic, Real Betis and Ferencvaros in the group stage of the Europa League. Bayer04.de takes a closer look at the opponents for the Werkself.
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Bayer 04 kick off the Europa League campaign in 2021/22 on Thursday 16 September. The team led by head coach Gerardo Seoane start with a home game against the Hungarian club Ferencvaros then play Celtic and Real Betis in Group G. Reason enough to take a closer look at the Werkself’s opponents.

CELTIC 

General info: For the first away game in the group stage on 30 September, the Werkself travel 1,200 kilometres to Glasgow. And it has to be said: Every Bayer 04 fan should attend this game if possible. The unique atmosphere at football matches at Celtic Park is an experience for fans that will never be forgotten. With a capacity of 60,000, Celtic Park is the second biggest stadium in Scotland. Werkself fans had the opportunity to absorb the atmosphere of games in Glasgow in the spring of 2020. Bayer 04 won 3-1 away to Glasgow Rangers.

Coach: On 10 June 2021 Ange Postecoglou was appointed head coach. The 56-year-old took over from John Kennedy who led Celtic to the runners-up spot last term – Rangers ended the season as champions. Postecoglou has the challenge of helping the Bhoys win titles again. Before his job in Scotland the Australian was head coach at Yokohama F. Marinos in the Japanese top-flight.

Key players: One name stands out looking at the Celtic squad: Joe Hart. The 34-year-old made 340 Premier League appearances with Manchester City, Birmingham City, West Ham United and Burnley. He was also the England number 1 – he won 75 caps for the Three Lions. He joined Celtic for the start of this season. The most highly rated player is Odsonne Edouard, up to the summer a France U21 international. The 23-year-old striker scored 22 goals in 40 games for Celtic 22. Other key players: the captain Callum McGregor, a Scotland international alongside midfielder Ryan Christie.

Honours: Celtic have swept the board domestically in Scotland. 51 league titles, 40 Scottish Cups and 19 Scottish League Cups are in the Celtic Football Club trophy cabinet. The Bhoys won the treble in 2019/20. Celtic were the first club in the British Isles to win the European Cup in 1966/67 and that remains their only European triumph.

REAL BETIS 

General info: The Werkself travel to Andalusia on matchday three in the group on 21 October to play Real Betis. The Green and Whites home ground is the Estadio Benito Villamarín with a capacity of 60,721. Both at home and on the European stage, they have been in the shadows of local rivals FC Sevilla who won the Europa League four times between 2013 and 2020.

Coach: Manuel Pellegrini took over as head coach in August 2020. The 67-year-old Chilean celebrated his greatest success in 2013/14 when he led Manchester City to the Premier League title. Pellegrini has also coached West Ham United (2018-2019), FC Malaga (2010-2013), Real Madrid (2009-2010) and FC Villareal (2004-2009).

Key players: Whenever you talk about Real Betis, you have to look at Joaquín. The 40-year-old has achieved legendary status at the club: Joaquín is in his thirteenth season with Betis and he has made the second most appearances in La Liga (582) behind Andoni Zubizarreta (620 games). There will probably be more to come as the winger signed an extension to his contract for another season with the Green and Whites. In Andrés Guardado (seven games for the Werkself) there is another former Bayer 04 player in the squad of the Andalusian team’s squad. Also worth looking out is: the Argentinian Guido Rodríguez in defensive midfield plus the two offensive players Nabil Fekir and Sergio Canales who control the Betis game. Also well known in Germany: Marc Batra, who played for Borussia Dortmund from 2016 to January 2018, has yet to make an appearance in La Liga.

Honours: The last big title for Betis was over a decade ago: The club won the Spanish cup competition for the seeond time in the club’s history in 2004/05 – they beat CA Osasuna 2-1 in the final of the Copa del Rey after extra time. Betis were champions of Spain in 1934/35.

FERENCVAROS 

General info: Of Leverkusen’s group opponents, Ferencvaros are probably the least well known. The home and origin of the club name is the southeastern suburb of Ferencvaros (English: Franz town) named after the Austrian emperor Franz I. The team from the Hungarian capital play their home games at the Groupama Aréna, which has a capacity of 22,600 for European games.

Coach: Peter Stöger (contract to 2023) took over the helm at Ferencváros in the summer. The 55-year-old Austrian is known in Germany for his time in charge of FC Köln and Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. Bayer 04 have registered three wins, three draws and two defeats against Stöger teams.

Key players: During the summer transfer window, Ferencvaros brought in Zeljko Gavric from Red Star Belgrade. The 20-year-old left-winger is considered to be a great prospect in Serbia. During last season, the U21 international made 27 league appearances for Red Star and he scored eight goals and provided three assists. The striker Robert Mak is also known in Germany having played for FC Nürnberg from 2010 to 2014. He mostly plays alongside the Belgian Ryan Mmae, who arrived from AEL Limassol in the summer and he scored four goals and set up three in the Champions League qualifiers.

Honours: Ferencvaros are not only the reigning champions but also the record champions in Hungary’s top flight with 32 titles to date. The 2020/21 title for the capital club was the third championship title in succession. Ferencvaros have won the Hungarian cup 23 times.

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