The Bayer boys have arrived !!! Yes, Roger Schmidt’s squad of Leverkusen players, along with coaches and staff, have touched down in Orlando, Florida, arriving Tuesday to begin a significant portion of their winter training in preparation for MatchDay 17 on Sunday, January 22 when they host Champions League contender Hertha Berlin at the BayArena.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen are believers in the annual Florida Cup competition held in Orlando, Florida. This January will mark the 3rd Florida Cup and Die Werkself have come to the United States for all three competitions and arrived Tuesday in the sunshine state. VfL Wolfsburg will be sending its reserve squad to compete in friendlies after deciding that, with so much change this season, that they will forgo competing in the Florida Cup with their Bundesliga team and remain closer to home for winter break and training. The Wolves have replaced their coach and their sporting director over the last few months and just sold their young star, Julian Draxler — so it is somewhat understandable but still a questionable move in trying to build a North American fanbase.
Leverkusen will play two friendlies while in Florida. The first will be part of a doubleheader on January 8 at Al Lang Field in Tampa, as Roger Schmidt’s boys take on Argentina’s Estudiantes de la Plata at 2:00 pm ET while the Wolfsburg youth squad will play the Tampa Bay Rowdies featuring former EPL star Joe Cole at 4:45 pm, with tickets available here. On Wednesday January 11, Die Werkself will face off against Brazilian side Clube Atlético Mineiro in Orlando’s ESPN Sports Complex at 7:00 pm (tickets here) while the next night the young Wolves will Bahia of Salvador, Brazil, same location, same kickoff time, tickets available here. Both Bundesliga sides will return to Germany shortly after their friendlies to continue their training while the second phase of the Florida Cup picks up with such famed South American sides as River Plate, Vasco de Gama, Corinthians, Millionairos, Sao Paulo and Barcelona SC of Ecuador will compete.
Leverkusen will once again be staying at the Omni International Hotel in Orlando, and during their last two visits to Orlando their practices were conducted within walking distance behind the hotel complex. Fans can drive to the hotel area and drive around and park near the small building adjacent to the practice fields since at the beginning of this video.
If things continue as in the past, practices are open to the public and players will be available AFTER practice for autographs and photos. This is a great opportunity to see the many star players of Leverkusen up close and witness how Bundesliga players drill in preparation for the second half of the season. Generally practices are in the morning with another session in the afternoon, depending on weather, etc. To keep up with the Leverkusen entourage just check out this site to keep up on all the club’s activites. Chances are there also be an autograph session at a local sporting goods store during the club’s stay in Orlando, and you can keep up with the goings on at @bayer04_en and of course the Fanatic will be there, too.