Before Markopolo and co attack me for secretly dreaming of secession from Bavaria, I would like to point out that had Leverkusen been two points behind us and not ten, anything short of a Bayern win would have pained me greatly. But now, it is time to tell my story.
When I started watching German football, I came to know that Leverkusen was considered to be the team which played eye-catching football but never won the titles. I viewed Leverkusen through exactly those lens and the more I watched them, the more I started to believe this fact/myth depending on what your position is on the matter. Every season, I made it a point to watch Leverkusen. I fell in love with a team with Rene Adler, Stefan Reinartz, Gonzalo Castro, Simon Rolfes and Stefan Kiessling in the line-up. Arturo Vidal was there along the way too as was Eren Derdiyok, not to mention Toni Kroos.
Their continuous horror shows in Europe though had an impact on me. My stomach churned with each goal as they were annihilated at Camp Nou not long ago. Their showings in the Round of 16 of Europe's premier competiton last season were not ones to be proud of either. Yet, when I watched them take on Monaco this time, I felt their pain. They lost the match but could have easily won by more than two goals. This is what makes me love Leverkusen.
Their matches are just a joy to watch, especially considering that they have Heung Min-Son, Karim Bellarabi and Hakan Calhanoglu on the same team. Calhanoglu is simply a genius. Son is not afraid to take on the keeper himself and is quick. Bellarabi is a great compliment to those two players. Added to these three silky players is the talent of the old Stefan Kiessling and the defensive midfield nous of the young but mature Lars Bender. Lars has outshone his brother Sven on the pitch although Sven, being devoid of the Leverkusen curse, has more titles to his name.
The love for skill and style of play is still not enough to generate the amount of love I have for Leverkusen. This is because I have felt their emotions when they have lost out constantly in situations they should have conquered. In an ideal world, Leverkusen would have won the German Cup in 2009 and won the Bundesliga title in 2010, if not 2011 as well. But, as they are a team which thrives on frustrating themselves and their supporters, despite the level of talent they possess, those scenarios never came to pass.
When a frustration washes over me while I am watching Leverkusen hit the post fifty times and the opposition score on their first shot from a corner, I realize why I do love them. And, on Saturday, if they do beat Bayern playing attractive football, I would not mind losing out three points to Die Werkself.