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UEFA Champions League: Everything You Need to Know About Bayer Leverkusen

Michael CummingsWorld Football Lead WriterJuly 2, 2016

UEFA Champions League: Everything You Need to Know About Bayer Leverkusen

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    How much do you know about Bayer Leverkusen?

    Leverkusen is set to travel to Barcelona for the second leg of the Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday. Ahead of the match, we've gathered all the information you need to know about the German club.

    The match starts at 2:45 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, so there's little time to lose.

    Let's get started.

Basics

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    Bayer Leverkusen was founded in 1904 in the city of Leverkusen.

    The club also fields teams in basketball, gymnastics and various other sports.

    Leverkusen has never won the German title. The club's best finish has been second in 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2001-02 and 2010-11.

    At the European level, Leverkusen won the UEFA Cup in 1987-88 and finished second to Real Madrid in the 2001-02 Champions League.

    Leverkusen qualified for this season's Champions League by finishing second in the Bundesliga last term. Their last appearance in the competition came in 2004-05.

Where's Ballack?

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    German midfielder Michael Ballack was a key part of Leverkusen's 2001-02 Champions League run.

    He left for Bayern Munich following that season but returned in 2010.

    But Ballack had a dust-up with manager Robin Dutt and hasn't played for Leverkusen since January.

    He has since been linked with a move away from Bayer Leverkusen, possibly to MLS.

    Ballack, who represented Germany at two World Cups and three European Championships, was recently hired by ESPN for the American TV network's coverage of Euro 2012 this summer.

Where Are the Goals?

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    Goals have been hard to come by for Leverkusen this season.

    Stefan Kießling leads the team with seven league goals, while Eren Derdiyok has six.

    They are the only two Leverkusen players among the top 20 in the Bundesliga scoring charts.

    Andre Schürrle, a 21-year-old German international forward, is considered an up-and-coming star. But he has scored just three league goals this season.

    As a team, Leverkusen has scored 36 goals in 24 league matches—an average of just 1.5 per game.

    That has still been good enough for fifth place in the Bundesliga, four points behind Germany's final Champions League qualification spot.

How They Got Here

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    Leverkusen finished second in Champions League Group E behind Chelsea.

    A 1-1 draw with Genk on Matchday 6, coupled with Chelsea's 3-0 win over Valencia, was enough to send the Germans into the knockout stage for the first time since 2004-05.

First Leg

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    Leverkusen lost the first leg 3-1 to Barcelona three weeks ago at home.

    But for a few minutes, the teams were level.

    Alexis Sanchez put Barca ahead four minutes before halftime, but Michal Kadlec equalized in the 52nd minute.

    Sanchez put Barca back ahead for good just three minutes later.

    Click here for video highlights from the match.

Starstruck

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    Rudi Voller, Bayer Leverkusen's sporting director, joined the German media in criticizing the behavior of Kadlec and Manuel Friedrich following the Barcelona match.

    Kadlec (pictured) and Friedrich competed a little too enthusiastically for the right to exchange jerseys with Barcelona's Lionel Messi.

    Kadlec justified his actions like this: "When you play against such a player, then you always want his shirt. I would have swapped it immediately for a better result, but it is a shame that we did not do enough.''

Recent Form

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    Leverkusen's recent form in the Bundesliga has been good.

    A 4-1 home win over Augsburg on Feb. 18 started a current three-match winning run, which also includes victories over Cologne and Bayern Munich.

    Stefan Kießling scored twice in the Augsburg victory, and Lars Bender scored a brace in the away win over Cologne.

    Manager Robin Dutt expressed hope ahead of Wednesday's second leg, telling UEFA.com that "every once in a while (Barcelona) lose."

    Follow Mike on Twitter: @MikeCummings37

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