Despite snow and Wirtz’s failure: Bayer Leverkusen is playing for a win in Sweden

As of: November 29, 2023 8:15 p.m

Bayer Leverkusen wants to win the group in the Europa League game against BK Häcken. The Bundesliga leaders will have to do without Florian Wirtz, but the bigger problem could be the weather.

Progression is certain, Bayer Leverkusen is now aiming for early group victory. A draw in the penultimate group game against the still pointless Swedish Cup winners BK Häcken on Thursday in Gothenburg (9 p.m., live ticker on would guarantee the Bundesliga table leaders first place in the preliminary round. This saves the playoffs against a relegated team from the Champions League and directly secures the round of 16 ticket.

  • 5th group game day
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  • Live ticker, Thursday from 9 p.m
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But sports director Simon Rolfes doesn’t want to know about a draw: “The direction of travel is clear: win in Häcken and secure first place”said the 41-year-old before departing for Sweden on Wednesday: “That’s how we’re going to compete and that’s how I expect us to perform.”

Leverkusen without Wirtz in Sweden

Florian Wirtz did not travel to Sweden. According to the club, the national player is suffering “mild muscular problems”. But his absence is simply a matter of “a measure for protection”. Wirtz could be available again for the Bundesliga game on Sunday (5:30 p.m.) against Borussia Dortmund.

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The 20-year-old’s loss should not be of any consequence at Bayer. Wirtz would probably have been one of the players that coach Xabi Alonso would have spared anyway. In previous European Cup games, he always changed his Bundesliga starting eleven to five or six positions.

Maybe Patrik Schick can hope to play for this. After two short appearances, the striker had to take a break from five competitive games after a ten-month injury break. “He’s definitely there and on the right track,” Rolfes said.

Already chopping during the winter break

Regardless of the personnel, Leverkusen goes into the game as the clear favorites. Not only that Bayer was able to win 17 of its 18 competitive games this season and is in first place in the Bundesliga. BK Häcken is actually already on winter break. The last game of the season took place on November 12th. In Sweden the season is played over the calendar year.

So it looks like Bayer can only stop the weather. Because it’s currently pretty frosty in Sweden at minus eight degrees. On Wednesday evening, the Swedish helpers at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg even had to work extra shifts to clear the field of heavy snow.

Lucky for the Leverkusen team: As usual, they completed their final training session on Wednesday morning at their home training ground instead of, as is usually the case in the European Cup, in the stadium where the game was played. As of Wednesday evening, the staging of the Europa League game should not be in jeopardy. On Thursday the temperatures are expected to remain below zero, but no precipitation is forecast.