All’s square in love, war and Leverkusen


Aldershot or Leverkusen?  Hampshire or NordRhein Westfalon?  The Recreation Ground or the BayerArena?  Questions we all ask ourselves.  But how many of us who choose the latter answers?  Hands up the Daggers Diary team.  Brian Parish reports on a Saturday well spent in Germany.

Let me ask you a question. How long do you reckon it takes to organise one of these trips? Our February jaunt to four different countries was about ten months from the original idea to actually going, while the regular trips to Spain are normally around three to four months from start to finish.

I only bring this up, as on Maundy Thursday, I was sitting in work, minding my own business when Dagenham Dan phoned up, saying that Neil had been on the phone, asking what was occurring the following weekend. Now, with the Daggers playing away at Aldershot, we had already made alternative arrangements to visit Southend Manor in the Essex Senior League. However, Neil’s idea was to go slightly further than the Essex coast. At this point, my thoughts instantly turned to how much this was going to cost, without even considering where we were going. The plan, as it transpired, was to go to Leverkusen.

Remember, this was late on the Thursday afternoon. By Friday lunchtime, as we were sitting in the club house prior to the Daggers game against Burton, all the bookings were done and sorted, and we were on our way. Apparently, Neil would have done it sooner, had he not been going out on the Thursday night.

So, having thought that the passports were now locked away for the remainder of the season, three of us (which would be Dagenham Dan, Liam and I) set out from Thurrock at 4am on the Saturday morning, on our way to meet Neil at Folkestone services, and our scheduled train crossing at 6.20am. Given the choice of Aldershot, Southend Manor or Leverkusen, I think we all know what we would have chosen. Continue reading

The real home of sex, drugs and roll n’ roll…..well 1 out of 3 ain’t bad!



The first half of the 2008/09 Bundesliga season undoubtably belonged to the miracle team from the small village of Hoffenheim, who upset the whole form book by going into the winter break at the top of the league. This in itself was a surprise as their form in the last few matches was far from impressive, and the “game of the season” against Bayern Munich on the penultimate set of fixtures saw the team from Bavaria come out on top and close the gap to a single point.If their form in December was worrying, the first two games of the restarted season in late January were a serious cause for concern. An easy looking game away at bottom of the table Borussia Monchengladbach resulted in a hard earnt draw, and in their first game at the new Rhein-Neckar Arena, built with the millions of Euro’s from our friend Dietmar Hopp, against Bayer Leverkusen they were two nil down before the opening ribbon had fallen to the floor. Leverkusen went on to record a 4-1 win to complete an impressive double (they beat 1899 earlier in the season 5-2 in Nordrhein) to really open up the Bundesliga title race. Hertha Berlin’s defeat of Bayern Munich just over 24 hours later sent the team from the capital to the top of the Bundesliga for the first time in over a decade. It also allowed HSV Hamburg to jump into the top three to possibly create the most competitive season in decades with five teams (1899, TSV, Hertha, Bayern and Leverkusen) all in with a shout of glory.

With so many teams competing for top spot, big clashes would be occuring almost every week, and so seven days after Hertha went top, Bayer Leverkusen were due to take on TSV Hamburg, not at their intimate Bayer Arena, but at the 50,000 plus all seater LTU Arena in Dusseldorf.

Bayer had been one of the German teams of the early part of the decade, fighting for the title right up to the last day on a couple of occasions and reaching the 2002 Champions League Final in Glasgow where they lost to Real Madrid. They have one of the best attendance records in European football with their 22,500 capacity stadium sold out for more than 100 consecutive Bundesliga games. Plans had been in place for a number of seasons to redevelop the Bayer Arena to make it fit for their next assault on domestic glory but finances were never in place.

At last at the start of this season a decision was made to start on the necessary redevelopments to increase the capacity to over 30,000. However, this work would mean the stadium would have to be closed for a period of at least 6 months and so arrangements were put in place to move a few miles down the road to Dusseldorf for the second half of the season. Leverkusen as a town is essentially a suburb of Cologne, hanging on the end of the S-Bahn line. It is really only famous for one thing – Bayer AG. The giant pharmaceutical company was founded in the region over one hundred and forty years ago and has now grown to be the third biggest in the world with revenues of over £30billion and employing over 100,000 people. Their most famous brand is Aspirin but few people actually know that they used to market Heroin as a product that was a “sedative for coughs”. The company formed a sports club in 1904 that eventually became the club we know today as Bayer Leverkusen.

So why was a 50,000+ seater stadium just sitting ready and waiting so close? Well let’s go back five years to 2003 when Germany was given the 2006 FIFA World Cup. At that point a number of cities raised their eyebrows and thought – I’d like a bit of that action. The organising committee had a tough choice drawing up a final list of 12 cities and stadiums, so they set stringent criteria, one of which was that a 40,000+ seater stadium had to be either in place or under construction at the time of the bid. Cities such as Stuttgart, Hamburg, Bremen and Berlin were laughing but surprise packages such as Leipzig and Kaiserslautern were given the nod above the likes of Monchengladbach and Dusseldorf who had spent millions building brand new state of the art venues.

The main problem they faced in the choice for suitabel venues was not down to facilities, or even politics. It was simply one of location. Travel less than 20 minutes south from Dusseldorf and you arrive on the doorstep of the 50,0000 capacity RheinEnergie stadium in Cologne. Head just a bit further to the east and you will stumble across the impressive 60,000 seater indoor Veltins Arena, home to Schalke 04 and the awesome 80,000 plus home of Borussia Dortmund, thus underlining the claim in these parts that this is the heart and soul of European Football.

At least Monchengladbach had a relatively successful team who could play in their new stadium. The new arena there co-incided with a return to the Bundesliga and they have since filled it almost to the brim on every occasion. The same cannot be said for Dusseldorf as the club side their, Fortuna, regularly attract crowds of less than 5,000 in a huge stadium modelled on the Millennium Stadium, complete with multi-coloured seats and a retractable roof.

So, when Bayer Leverkusen rang Fortuna and asked if they could come and play every so often, the club were only too keen to agree. The LTU Arena is a superb one for football, having hosted the annual DFB Pokal Cup (the German equivilant of the Community Shield although featuring a few more teams) for the past few seasons.

I had been invited to a supplier workshop in Cologne, to co-incide with one of the major events in the Cologne carnival. I used to live almost on the Notting Hill carnival route so I was used to the incessant whistling noise created by the crowds and sound of tin cans being kicked across the street for two days but the Cologne one is something else. It actually starts on the 11th November at 11.11am, and carries on right through to the end of February each year, with the last biggest hurrah being the last Monday of the month where apparently the Germans get a bit “crazy” which is called Rosenmontag. I have seen German “crazy” before and it is not a pretty sight. Any football fan remembers the awful scene of the German Euro96 winners singing “It’s coming home” on the balcony in Berlin will know what I mean. So everything tied in very well. I got a trip out to Germany, the Bundesliga fixtures kindly delivered a top of the table game near to Cologne in a stadium that I had never been to, and I got to go wild and crazy wearing a silly outfit for a couple of hours. Marvellous. The only down side was Bayer’s flat refusal to issue me a press pass as they only issued them to “full time journalists from Germany”…I tried reasoning but some clubs think that they are more important than they really are…so step forward Bayer Leverkusen for winning the Jobsworth award for 2009 (so far).My plan for the day actually included initially a visit to the MSV Arena to catch Duisburg play at 2pm before I headed down the road to Dusseldorf. This really is an amazing area for football – An hour on an (albeit very fast train) could see you at any one of eight top division teams, and a further six second level ones. However, not for the first time this week I encountered “technical” issues on my plane and so Ryanair had to put their fanfare music on hold for a few more days as we touched down in Weeze an hour behind schedule, and more importantly, putting pay to my game at MSV.

I headed direct to Dusseldorf to take in the sights and sounds of their carnival Sunday, with all sorts of characters wandering around pissed early in the afternoon. My favourite was the Britney (the “Oops I did it again” phase) handcuffed to an angel who had no more on that a towel – a marvellous sight and one to stir the interest in the Cologne carnival I would be attending in less than 24 hours.

The fans making their way to the stadium had got into the spirit of things by dressing up as well, There was no actual theme, with characters such as Batman, Pink Panther, Spice Girls and Sir Alan Sugar (well it my just have been a grumpy middle aged man) making an appearance. The other noticable thing was the number of away fans who had made the three hour journey from Hamburg mingling with the Leverkusen fans. A fifteen minute U-Bahn trip deposited me at the awesome LTU Arena, and after a swift body search by a lovely hands on female steward I was tucking into a currywurst and a Alt beer.

Hamburg certainly had brought a fair number of fans, congrogated behind the north goal, and for most of the build up to the match outsinging the home fans. Hamburg, under Martin Jol had come into the game in third place, but knowing that a win would take them top. This is the team managed by the so-called Spurs reject Martin Jol (interesting that the two best leagues in Europe apart from the English is the Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga. And the two best coaches based on current form are? Mr Jol and the man who replaced him at Spurs Juande Ramos, now in charge at Real Madrid), who had also sold their best two midfielders in the first half of the season to Manchester City – Nigel De Jong and Vincent Kompany. DeJong’s transfer was laughable as City paid nearly £17m for his services, yet the release clause in his contract due to kick in in June 2009 would see him available for less than £3m.

Bayer Leverkusen 1 HSV Hamburg 2 – LTU Arena, Dusseldorf, Sunday 22nd February 2009

The LTU Arena

The LTU Arena

The game started with a heavy drizzle settling over the stadium, causing a number of early passes to go astray. Hamburg deployed a 4-4-1-1 formation that caused the Leverkusen back four problems from the first few minutes. The first goal, unsurprisingly came from the visitors as a pull back across the penalty area from Guerro was missed by the Croat Olic, and Jansen took one touch before drilling the ball home from the edge of the penalty area with 19 minutes on the clock. A few minutes later Jensen should have added a second when he pulled his shot wide from a similar position.

There was an undercurrent of nastiness on the pitch that led to a number of yellow cards but on the half hour mark a late challenge by Fredericks from Leverksuen went unchallenged and his low cross was brilliantly turned in by Helmes to level the scores. With time running out in the half, the home team at last started taking the game to Hamburg an where a decent centre forward away form going in in the lead.

At half time I headed down onto the concourse to do my bit for the environment by recycling my beer glass and trying to understand the thinking behind some of the customes people had on. A bear outfit – ok…A seventies outfit complete with huge afro – nice touch…A Boris Becker outfit complete with tennis racket – amusing….A Rudi Voller outfit (turned out it actually was Rudi)…and a Ruud Guillet – complete with blacked up face….Is this racist? even if it isn’t, it was a very strange choice of outfit.

The second half started slowly with few chances in the first fifteen minutes until a Leverkusen freekick flashed just wide on the 55th minute mark. A few minutes later it was the visitors turn to nearly take the lead when Olic took the ball around the keeper but his shot was cleared off the line. Five minutes later they did get their goal when Jensen found himself eiht yards out with the ball falling in front of him and he volleyed in to score his second.

Much as Leverkusen toiled they were no match for the hard working Hamburg team. Even when the visitors were reduced to ten men when Jerome Boeteng was sent off for a second yellow Leverkusen could not create a chance.

So with Hamburg sitting top of the pile, and becoming the fourth team to lead the Bundesliga in 2009 I headed back into Koln for a night of relaxation before those crazy Germans got their hands on me on Monday morning.

Anyone who knows me knows that I do not do wacky. I abhore any event that draws attention to myself in any way apart from a professional light. So anyone walking into the offices of a certain German software company at 9.30am on Monday 23rd February would not believe what they say. Mr Stuart Fuller dressed as a clown, complete with clown make up and a big bowtie. I did however have my second Kölsch beer of the day that was a sweetner to this enforced embarrassment. We had reserved seats at the carnival and arrived there just before midday. The streets were full of every conceivable fancy dress, and it was very good to see the young ladies of the city had really made an effort, and the almost artic conditions meant nothing to them based on the amount of flesh on display. Every few minutes a small glass of Kölsch would appear in my hand, a toast would go up and another beer would slip smoothly down. The parade started at one pm with a marching band and a float, on which middle aged men threw chocolate down on the crowd….Fast forward four fours and the last float drifted past, with a brass band and a middle age man throwing chocolate down – a bit of variation wouldn’t go a miss.

The Germans wanted to party harder and the opening bars of “Hey Baby” in the hospitality tent were enough to send them into raptures, and me back to the hotel, grabbing my kisses (If you have a heart on your cheek that means you want a kiss – I had 2!!) as I went. I counted up my sweets – enough to keep the Little Fuller’s happy, and a bonus 3 bottles of Jägermeifter for my nightcap…I am sure Swansea on Saturday will be just as welcoming to us English.

About the LTU Arena
The futuristic home of little Fortuna Dusseldorf has been built on the site of the historic old Rheinstadion, which was used during Euro88. It actually held nearly 56,000 fans and became synonymous not with soccer but American Football as it was home to one of the success stories of the new defunct World League of American Football. The new stadium was constructed initially with a view to becoming a host venue for the 2006 World Cup in 2002, and opened its doors in May 2004 after a €240m rebuild.

It is certainly futuristic with the multi-coloured seats offering an almost perfect view of the action, a retractable roof and heating below the seats to keep everyone’s legs warm. The stadium inside is very similar to the Millennium stadium although it only has two tiers, separated by a line of executive boxes. The stadium has hosted the national team on a number of occasions the last being in February when Norway were the visitors, as well as the annual pre-season Bundesliga tournament – the DFB Pokal. It is also a favourite for some of the biggest names in music in the world such as Coldplay and Oasis who are playing there this year.

How to get to the LTU Arena
The arena is located in the north west area of the city, on the banks of the River Rhine. The easiest way to get there is to take U-Bahn 78 from the Hauptbahnhof which runs every 10 minutes and takes around 15 minutes. The stadium is located just outside the main doors to the arena and travel is free for match ticket holders 3 hours before and after the game. If you are driving then the stadium is well signposted and parking is plentiful.

How to get a ticket for the LTU Arena
For Bayer Leverkusen matches, tickets can be purchased from their online portal via their home page http://www.bayer04.de or by phone on +41 1805 040404. Alternatively you can buy them from http://www.seatwave.com. Tickets start from €22 for a place in the standing area behind the goal to €42 for a top of the range seat. It is not clear yet what sort of attendances Bayer will get in the bigger arena.

Karnevale!


Dusseldorf and Koln

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There’s only one Becks and it’s certainly a bit posh


THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM OUR BOOK – PASSPORT TO FOOTBALL – CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS.

Opportunities for cheeky day trips are few and far between these days. With CMF(tm) planning a day of Christmas shopping at Lakeside I thought I would consult the European crystal ball to see where I could go that was not already on the Fuller map. Now I have said before about my love for German football. Beer, passionate fans, cheap tickets and normally some decent football all add up to a great match day over there and so I scanned the list for something new…..Amazingly, Bremen popped up – a city and a stadium I had been tardy in not visiting before. A tasty little game with Bayer Leverkusen beckoned – 2nd versus 3rd in the last game before the Christmas break.

Ryanair for once not only had 1p flights available (really £19.41 all in but hey it doesn’t have the same marketing message), but had flights out and back in the same day – very unusual for them. So off I went, armed just with the latest Simon Kernick book on a flight full of middle-aged women with issues – a little tip here for those ladies who feel they have to project their voice….If you do want to tell your friend that up until the age of 9 you used to wet yourself every time your Mum’s friend Wendy looked at you then perhaps try lowering your voice – it was hardly surprising that no one wanted to sit next to her on the short 1 hour flight.

Bremen is under rated as a city….It seemed that at every corner when I had just thought – “Perhaps they have a Kardstadt Sports shop (the best sports shops on the planet for buying football stuff)” there would be one….I tried this all morning and was delighted with the results….The Christmas markets were in town and so food and drink was in abundance, as too were the crowds. But what was impressive was so many locals bedecked in their orange, green and white – not 3 colours you would readily chose for your front room but everyone seemed to be proud of their football club. Interestingly not many fans had chosen to adopt the away colours of chocolate brown and lime green – I cannot think why, but you can never accuse the club of being shy and retiring.

So, on a bitterly cold December day when the UK headed to the cathedrals of Bluewater, Lakeside and the Metro Centre, I headed off for some Gluwine and Brautwurst in one of the best preserved city centres in Europe. The problem with German Christmas markets is that they are all the same – if you have been to one in one city, expect exactly the same elsewhere. And likewise, there only seems to be a dozen or so different stalls – so once you have seen the cute wooden decorations once or the sweet stalls that sell all fo those treats that were banned in the UK along time ago (chocolate coated banana anyone?), you will see then twenty more times.

Bremen is a small yet prosperous city. The main industries today are technology and beer. And is there a more famous German brand than Becks – stronger than BMW, more effective than SAP and liked my more men than a Porsche. Bremen has proudly shown their name across the world on the Becks bottle. As a connoisseur of beer, Bremen also means the opportunity to sample the wonderful, yet rare Becks Gold and Becks Green Lemon.

What is strange about German football culture is the acceptance of the general public on the excessive match day drinking. In the city centre from around 11am you see groups of men standing around a crate of Becks simply drinking. No frills, no fanfare or trouble – just serious drinking and football chat – and of course ensuring that the empties go into the right recycling bin….This ritual carries on right up until kick off where the fans simply finish their bottles (recycling of course), enter the stadium and continue drinking from the bars.

The stadium is located a short journey outside the city centre and most people cram (and I mean cram) on tram number 3 that runs from outside the old cathedral in the city centre. A ten minute journey dropped me at the Weser Stadion stop and immediately I was met with the smell of grilled sausages and enough outside bars serving ice cold Becks to keep me going for days. Most fans get to the stadium early to sample the food and drink around the ground. The stadium is wedged in a bend in the River Weser, and the main entry points are on the north side of the stadium.

Another strange feature of German football is this idea of Fan co-operation – each club has a “favourite” other clubs who when they meet up, share some kind of common enemy (such as Borussia Dortmund) or a common event (a match that saw one team stay up due to a win over the enemy)….Leverkusen were obviously a favourite of Werder Bremen’s as on every corner there was fans mingling and drinking, whilst in the stadium there appeared to be no animosity at all. Hard to see this working at Millwall or Cardiff somehow!

Inside the stadium was impressive. Werder are one of the teams in Germany currently looking at relocating simply to get more people in on a match day. Currently they have room for 42,000 fans but on more occasions than not this is simply not enough. It would be a shame to leave such as stadium though – compact at the sides, traditional curves behind the goal and some strange floodlights certainly give it a unique feel. But money rules the roost in German football, as it does in the rest of Europe and so if opportunities for match day revenue can be made greater by moving away then they will. Currently the club are one of the big five in Germany with Bayern, HSV, Stuttgart and Schalke and any advantage the club can get off the pitch will help on the pitch in the long run.

With the sun setting early in the match, and the temperature barely getting above freezing (yet not one player had gloves on – let alone tights!), expectations of a tight defensive game were blown out of the water after 45 seconds as the Crouch-alike Keissling from Leverkusen went clean through and fluffed his lines. Bremen’s forward line of Rosenborg, the revived Klasnic (he who lost a kidney not too long ago) and the mercurial Diego seem to have adjusted to life after Klose’s pre-season move to arch rivals Bayern very well and Bremen’s amazing home record this season of 13 wins in 14 games (the other was a 4-1 defeat to Bayern with Klose scoring) has not been earnt by defending deep. They soon went on the offensive and how the score stayed at 0-0 for more than 5 minutes was a miracle and it wasn’t. In the 6th minute the deadlock was broken. A 3 on 2 break by Werder was quickly snuffed out and within seconds the ball was in the back of their net as Bayer ruthlessly exposed the Brazilian Naldo.

Their lead should have been doubled soon after when Crouch-alike missed a simple one on one with Werder’s keeper when all of the stadium, TV cameras and most of the city stood still waiting a blatantly obvious linesman’s flag for offside. The legendary Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf acted swiftly and ruthlessly withdrew captain and midfielder Tim Borowski with less than 20 minutes on the clock. He headed straight down the tunnel, not without first seeing Klasnik stab in an equalizer.

At the end of the first half some dreadful play acting (a headbutt that missed and a Bremen forward feigning injury as if he had been hit by Amir Kahn, Joe Calzage and Ricky Hatton all at once) should have led to a Werder penalty and at least one red card, but both teams retreated into the warmth of the bowels of the stadium with the referee explaining to the guilty Bremen player how he should have fallen over to get a penalty and a red card for the opposition. The second half started with a bang, to say the least…46 minutes 2-1 Bremen, 48 minutes 3-1 Bremen, 50 minutes 4-1 Bremen and then 61 minutes 5-1 Bremen….yet the amazing fact was that they seemed to score with every attack, getting every single lucky rebound, every break of the ball and every marginal decision. Leverkusen didn’t give up attacking, knowing that their luk had to change and eventually got one back as Crouch-alike’s misplaced header looped over Bremen’s goalie much to the suprise of the Bremen goalie and 42,000 other people in the stadium.

So a 5-2 win, coupled with Bayern Munich’s draw saw the end of the first half of the Bundesliga draw to a close with Werder level on points at the top with the Bavarian giants. After Werder’s unexpected exit from the Champions League earlier in the week with a 3-0 defeat to Olympiakos there was at least some comfort for a swift return next year to the ultimate European Club Competition.

Less than 30 minutes after the end of the game I was back at the airport, and with efficiency that would have any seasoned Ryanair travellers standing in amazement, I was back in Chez Fuller in time to see Same Difference get kicked off X-Factor at 9pm. Oh, and I had missed another Curbishley inspired West Ham home performance at home with a defeat again to Everton…The cost of my trip was less than £65….The cost of a ticket for Upton Park would have been £5 less…..I know what I’d recommend in future.

About the Weser Stadion

The Weser Stadion has been the home of Werder Bremen for nearly 100 years, although it has gone through a number of major changes during that time. It is now one of the most distinctive looking stadiums in Germany due to its unique floodlights and its oval shape. It was originally used as a general sports field in the early part of the century before being developed for political rallies in the early 1930’s at the time when the Nazi party was on the rise. The stadium was extensively remodelled in the 1970’s with a new roof added as well as the addition of 9,500 seats. During the 2001/02 season the biggest project took place when the pitch was lowered, allowing a further 8,000 seats to be added to the ground. The stadium has a dual capacity depending on the nature of the matches played – for normal Bundesliga matches the capacity is 42,500, but this falls to around 35,000 for Internationals as the terracing has to be converted to seating. In September 2005 the German national team played a friendly international at the stadium against South Africa. The stadium also houses a museum, and holds regular tours of the ground which costs €5 for Adults and €2.50 for Concessions. Plans have been drawn up for a new 50,000 seater stadium a few hundred yards away from the Weser Stadion, and August 2010 has been penciled in as a potential opening date, although construction has not begun as of August 2008.

Who plays there?

Werder Bremen are now established as one of the most consistent teams in German football, after their capture of the domestic double in 2004, and appearances in the Champions League group stages every season since. Their 3-1 victory in the Olympic Stadium in Munich in May 2004 will go down in history as one of the most dramatic games in German football history as it broke Bayern’s seemingly unbreakable hold on the Bundesliga title. The team, led by coach Thomas Schaaf won the title for the fourth time, and the first time since 1993 through the efforts of players like Johan Micoud, the Brazilian Ailton and Miroslav Klose. In the last two Champions League campaigns, the club have made it out of difficult group stages, only to fall against perceived weaker teams in the first knock out rounds. The club were originally formed in 1899, and whilst performing well in the North German leagues, they did not taste any glory until 1961 when they beat Kaiserslautern to win the German Cup in Gelsenkirchen. After failing to be included in the first ever Bundesliga in 1963, the team showed their critics the errors of their ways by winning the Bundesliga title in their first season in the league in 1964/65. Over the next decade the team couldn’t find any consistency and actually fell into the second division in 1980. The appointment of Otto Rehhagel as coach revived the team and under young stars such as Rudi Voller, the team rose again and in 1983 they finished runners up in the league. In 1988 they took their second Bundesliga title, starting a magical period for the club under Rehhagel which saw a further League championship in 1993, German Cup wins in 1991 and 1994 and victory in Europe with the European Cup Winners Cup title in 1992. After Rehhagel left the club in 1995, the club struggled to replace him until they decided to promote Thomas Schaaf in 1999. In his first season Werder took the German Cup after beating Bayern Munich on penalties. His performance during the remaining seasons to date are of legendary status, and the double of 2003/04 has proved to be no fluke after another top two finish last season with Klose, Klasnic and Borowski powering the team forward. Werder are also the highest scorers in German football, as fans have seen the team score four or more goals ten times on average each season, although the loss of Klose to Bayern will be a major issue. Another third place finish in 2007 was fine reward for this exciting side.

How to get there

The Weser Stadium is located to the south east of the city centre on a reclaimed part of land next to the River Weser. The stadium is easily reached by public transport, as well as being close to the A1 Autobahn. From the Hauptbahnhof take tram line 10 in the direction of Sebaldsbrücke and alight at Juergen Strasse, or take line 3 in the direction of Weser. The journey should take less than 10 minutes and the journey is free for match ticket holders.

Getting a ticket

Last season Werder sold out a number of matches, including the games versus Hertha Berlin, Bayern Munich and Hamburg, but the average attendance was around 39,500 meaning that for matches against the majority of opposition tickets are available. Tickets can be purchased from the stadium on match days, as well online at http://www.werder.de. Tickets range in price from €11 behind the goals to €29 in the upper tiers close to the halfway line. Ticket prices tend to be 10% higher for Champions League matches.