Back on track with 'Auge'
Bayer are looking to get back on track with Klaus Augenthaler, World Cup winner in 1990 who 17 German league titles and three DFB Cups with Bayer Munich. For new signings are brought in: Clemens Fritz, Robson Ponte, Ingo Hertzsch and Teddy Lucic. Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker, Alexander Meyer and René Adler step up from the youth section to the first team.
End of an era for Kirsten
After 13 years at Bayer 04 Ulf Kirsten is no longer in the squad. The 'Schwatte' ended his great career after 350 Bundesliga games, scoring 181 Bundesliga goals and playing 100 internationals. He now works as assistant coach. Thank you Ulf.
The Bayer 04 Airbus
Bayer 04 and LTU extend their partnership: An Airbus will in future fly with red and white Bayer 04 livery. The maiden flight was to Munich for the game away to Bayern
Jens Nowotny made his comeback on five October in the 3-0 home win against Rostock after nine months out injured.
Best start to the season since joining the Bundesliga in 1979
It's full steam ahead from the start for Bayer with great performances against Freiburg (4-1) and Hannover (4-0) plus a 3-3 draw against Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium. After 12 match days, Bayer are in second place at the start of November with 29 points out of a possible 36. It is the best start since promotion to the Bundesliga in 1979.
Ulf's farewell game back home
When the man, who this night was all about, leaves the pitch after 80 minutes he draws a standing ovation from the 30,000 spectators present. Andy has tears in his eyes. Ulf Kirsten left the big football stage on 16 November 2003 in his home town of Dresden. Here where his great career began it also ends. Emotional moments. Germany's most successful striker of the 90s thanks his fans: "I bound down in front of my crowd. It's been a great time and this here is the icing on the cake." And of course, even in this official farewell match between the Dynamo All Stars and Ulf's Dream Team 'Schwatte' still bags a few goals. The final score is 9-8 with Ulf scoring for for Dynamo and to for his Dream Team that included the two Brazilians Jorginho and Bebeto.
A lot of Bayer 04 fans make the journey to Dresden to celebrate with Ulf. The Germany coach Rudi Völler presents him with a national shirt with the number 100 on it. Afterwards, there is a very special night with a jolly party in the big ballroom of the Dresdner Hotel Bellevue.
Short stumble in the league
The brilliant start is followed by a weaker phase with four games without a win. In the last match in the first half of the season Bayer make an impressive statement with a 3-2 win at Stuttgart who were second in the table at that point. Dimitar Berbatov is the outstanding man of the match with two goals. Bayer go into the winter break lying third in the table.
Second half of the season gets off to a bad start
As nearly perfect as Bayer started the first half of the season, the restart after the winter break is a catastrophe. Five defeats – including three at home – and a draw is the record after the first six games in 2004, the team is truly rattled but incredibly still in fifth place.
Turnaround against Wolfsburg
In protest against the recent poor performances, Bayer 04 fans in the North Stand take their places 10 minutes after kick-off in the home game against Wolfsburg on 13 March. They miss the blistering start from their team. In the first minute Berbatov scores the opening goal – Bayer are finally in the lead again. The dam has burst.
Soon after the empty fan section is filled up Marco Babic doubles the lead on 13 minutes. The game against Wolfsburg ends in a convincing 4-2 victory that sets the tone for an impressive run.
In the last eleven games of the season Bayer 04 not only remain unbeaten but also produce many exciting performances. The strike partnership of Berbatov and Franca is working brilliantly and produces goal after goal. Berbo scores nine goals in eleven games and Franca chips in with ten.
That means the pair have scored 19 out of a total of 33 goals in the last eleven matches.
Biggest home win in the club's history against Kaiserslautern
10 April 2004, an historic victory on Easter Saturday: Bayer are really up for it against the Red Devils and they inflict a 6-0 win on the team from the Palatinate. The highest Bundesliga home win in Bayer 04's history. The hosts were already 4-0 up at half-time. Franco scored the last goal on 55 minutes. Bayer move down a couple of gears after the hour mark. Otherwise there could have been double figures.
Another six goals at the champions
Werder Bremen are already confirmed champions ahead of the home game against Bayer 04 on matchday 33 – and they approach the Leverkusen game in a relaxed manner. Bayer make use of the opportunity to clock up a 6-2 win at Werder. Franca is the man of the match with a hat-trick. Afterwards the Bremen team, staff and fans also celebrate when Rudi Völler presents a championship shield.
Big 'final' against Stuttgart
The match on the last they have the season against Stuttgart is a real final encounter for third place and qualification for the UEFA champions league. VfB are two points ahead of Leverkusen in the desired third spot on this matchday. Only a win for Bayer can take them above Stuttgart. The visitors make the better start but Leverkusen remain calm.
After the hour mark Berbatov gives Bayer the lead with his 16th goal of the season, an artistic shot on the turn. Just before the end of the game Jörg Butt hits a penalty against the upright wall but Bernd Schneider is on hand to hit the rebound into the back of the net to secure a celebrated 2-0 win. It was the icing on the cake for a - except for a mysterious run of failures at the start of the second half of the campaign - very impressive season. From the drop zone to the Champions League. An upturn that is closely connected with the name Klaus Augenthaler.
The Bayer 04 team of the century
Bayer 04 and TSV Bayer 04 Leverkusen celebrate there joint 100th anniversary this year with lots of events. The BayArena Magazine and www.bayer04.de took this round number as inspiration to arrange a vote for the Bayer 04 team of the century. Over 4,000 fans took part in the vote.