Bayer Leverkusen welcome BK Hacken to the BayArena this Thursday in the opening game of the Europa League Group stage. Joining Leverkusen and Hacken in Group H are Qarabag and Molde.
Leverkusen currently sit top of the Bundesliga after four games. With three wins and one draw, Leverkusen are level with Bayern Munich on ten points. Leverkusen opened their season with a 3 - 2 win over RB Leipzig with Jermie Frimpong, Jonathan Tah and Florian Wirtz on the scoresheet. Victor Boniface grabbed a brace along with a goal from Tah to give Leverkusen the 3 - 0 win over Monchengladbach. Boniface, Exequiel Palacios, Jonas Hofmann and Adam Hlozek were all on the mark in the 5 - 1 win over Darmstadt and most recently Alex Grimaldo and and 94th minute penalty from Palacios gave Leverkusen the 2 - 2 draw with Bayern Munich.
In Europe last season, Leverkusen started in the Champions League, but after a third place finish in their group, were bumped down to the Europa League. In the Round of 32, Leverkusen drew Monaco. After a 3 - 2 loss in the first leg, Leverkusen had to win big in the away leg. Leverkusen finished the game with a 3 - 2 win and sent the tie to penalties, in which the German side won 5 - 3. Next up was Ferencvaros, who Leverkusen beat 2 - 0 in both legs to grab a 4 - 0 aggregate win. The first leg of the Quarter-final was a nervy 1 - 1 draw for Leverkusen against Union Saint-Gilloise, but they turned on the flare to win 4 - 1 in the second leg to take a 5 - 2 aggregate win. In the Semi-final, Leverkusen met Roma. After a 1 - 0 in the first leg for Roma, Leverkusen couldn’t muster any more than a 0 - 0 draw to send them crashing out just before the Final.
Hacken currently sit third in the Allsvenskan after 23 games with 15 wins, two draws and six losses. In terms of form, Hacken have three wins, against Varbergs BolS, Sirius and Halmstad and two losses to Goteborg and Degerfors.
Hacken started their European football journey in the First qualifying round for the Champions League. Against the New Saints Hacken managed a 3 - 1 win and a 2 - 0 win to grab the 5 - 1 win on aggregate. In the Second round Hacken faced Kl. With a 0 - 0 draw in the first leg, Hacken slumped to a 3 - 3 draw and a subsequent penalty shootout loss. This sent Hacken to the Europa League qualifying, first to the Third round. Here they met Zalgris, who Hacken quickly dispatched 3 -1 in the first leg and 5 - 0 in the second leg, earning themselves the 8 - 1 aggregate win. In the final round of qualifying, Hacken had to face Aberdeen. In the first leg Hacken were sent down to ten men with Johan Hammar sent off in the last minute as Hacken drew 2 - 2 with Aberdeen. In the return fixture, Hacken managed a 3 - 1 win, a 5 - 3 aggregate win and a spot in the Europa League Group stage.
Bayer Leverkusen and BK Hacken have never met professionally, but they also have vastly different histories in European football. Leverkusen have competed in the Champions League 13 times, even making the Final in 2002. In terms of the Europa League, Leverkusen have competed nine times, reaching the Semi-finals last season. BK Hacken, on the other hand, are competing in their first ever Europa League, having only competed in Qualifying six times.