Inter's only ever encounter with Bayer Leverkusen came as far back as 18 years ago, when we faced them over two legs. The match will be played at the Düsseldorf Arena, just 37 kilometers away from Leverkusen, with a place in the Europa League semi-finals at stake. La sfida The match will be played at the Düsseldorf Arena, just 37 kilometers away from Leverkusen, with a place in the Europa League semi-finals at stake.
OBA-OBA MARTINS'S TRIUMPHANT CELEBRATION
This was the day that we saw Oba Oba Martins's cartwheels for the first time, and they have been referred to as cartwheels ever since. In fact, they weren't cartwheels at all. In gymnastics lingo, what the Nigerian striker was doing was a round-off, three back-handsprings and a backflip. An elite-level floor gymnastics routine brought in as a football celebration. However, on that cold night in Leverkusen, on the 19 March 2003, Obafemi Martins, who had barely turned 19, was able to carry the entire Inter attack in the Champions League. It was his first start for Inter and that day, he opened his account for Inter, something we would go on to see so many times during Martins' time with the Nerazzurri. Plenty of players wanted to embrace him, but he was flying through the air, overjoyed. There were no other strikers available that day, Morfeo even missed a penalty, but Inter won 2-0 on the night, with Emre bagging the second. Oba's progress shone through on the Champions League stage.
HANS-JÖRG BUTT: FROM MARTINS TO MILITO
It was the sixth match of the second round of the group stages of the Champions League. And that night, it was Inter who made it to the semi-finals, with Martins set up by a delightful assist from Conceiçao, slotted home past Hans-Jörg Butt. The goalkeeper who took penalties, the same one who would go on to face Diego Milito in the final in Madrid more than seven years later: 22 May 2010, the Nerazzurri's third Champions League trophy. The same scenario, and the same outcome: a Nerazzurri centre-forward firing a shot at goal, and a goal for Inter.
DI BIAGIO AND... NICOLA BEATI: OUR MEETING AT SAN SIRO
But our clash at the BayerArena, as we have already mentioned, was the second clash between Inter and Leverkusen that season. The first was on 10 December 2002 at San Siro. A 3-2 win for Inter with a brace from Luigi Biagio and an own goal from Butt. The own goal came after a great solo run from Nicola Beati, academy product who made six appearances in total for Inter between 2000 and 2003. His cross-shot, intended for Crespo, proved to be too much for Butt, wrong-footing the German goalkeeper.
Leverkusen's record against Italian sides in general leaves much to be desired. The Germans have lost 8 of their 13 encounters, and in their last one-legged knockout tie against Udinese in 1999, they were eliminated once more.
BAYER LEVERKUSEN AND THEIR HONOURS
Bayer Leverkusen was founded in 1904 by a group of employees from Bayer, a pharmaceutical company based in the city, also taking its name from the company. They have won two trophies in their history: the 1988 UEFA Cup, winning the final on penalties against Espanyol, and the German Cup in 1993.
2002: BAYER LEVERKUSEN'S NIGHTMARE YEAR
2002 is by no means a year that Nerazzurri fans remember with great pleasure, given the pain of missing out on the title on the last day of the season. But that year, Leverkusen had to endure twelve days of pure sporting disaster. Twelve days in which they missed out on the German title on the last day of the season, after throwing away a five-point cushion at the top in just four matches. Then, on 15 May, Leverkusen were beaten 2-1 in the Champions League Final by Real Madrid in Glasgow, with Lucio scoring the goal that brought the sides level. And to make matters even worse, they had to deal with defeat in the German Cup Final.
FROM LUCIO TO DONATI, OLD FLAMES OF THE FIXTURE
As stated, Lucio played for Bayer Leverkusen from 2000 to 2004, before signing for Bayern Munich, and then finally joining Inter in 2009, and winning it all with the Nerazzurri. Zé Elias arrived at Inter from Leverkusen in 1997, spending two seasons with the Nerazzurri and winning the UEFA Cup. Giulio Donati made a single appearance for Inter in the Coppa Italia in the treble year, before playing for Bayer Leverkusen from 2013 until 2016. Last but not least comes Vratislav Greško: the Slovakian joined Inter in 2000 from Leverkusen.
LEVERKUSEN'S SEASON SO FAR
Peter Bosz's Leverkusen finished in fifth place in the Bundesliga. In July, they were beaten 4-2 in the German Cup Final by Bayern Munich. Bayer Leverkusen came into the Europa League after finishing in third place in their Champions League group (Behind Juventus and Atletico Madrid), and in previous rounds they have knocked out Porto and Rangers.
Bosz is Bayer Leverkusen's second ever Dutch Coach. Previously managing Ajax and Borussia Dortmund, he has gone on to leave a real impression on Leverkusen's style of play, introducing a possession-based game, with an average of 64% ball possession in the Bundesliga this season, second only to Bayern Munich.
KAI HAVERTZ, LEVERKUSEN'S STAR MAN
Born in 1999, Kai Havertz has already made Bayer Leverkusen history. Havertz is the first player born after the 1 January 1999 to have scored more than 30 goals in the Bundesliga, with a total of 36. This season in the Bundesliga he has scored twelve goals, six of which came after lockdown. In all competitions, he has bagged 17 this season, scoring four in the Europa League. Born in Aachen, he has already made seven appearances for the Germany National Team.