Ulf Kirsten becomes honorary captain
For the fans he is always one of the all-time greats: Ulf Kirsten, who scored 181 goals for Leverkusen in 350 Bundesliga appearances, will be the first Bayer 04 player ever to be named honorary captain at this season's launch event. The fans showed their support for their 'Schwatte' with a giant red and black shirt with the number nine on it.
Comings and goings
There have been quite a few changes in personnel at Bayer 04. Key players like Lucio, Yildiray Bastürk and Oliver Neuville are leaving the club. The signing of players like Roque Junior, Andrej Voronin, Paul Freier and Jacek Krzynowek ensure quality of the squad remains high.
Champions League Qualifier:Ostrava hurdle easily overcome
The Brazilian Franca is the outstanding man in the 5-0 win against Banik Ostrava in the Champions League qualifier. The striker nets a hat-trick at the BayArena. Juan and Dimitar Berbatov score the other goals the Leverkusen who can afford a 2-1 defeat in the return game. Bayer 04 are again amongst the 32 best teams in Europe
Gala performance against Bayern
The start to the new season is a success: A 2-1 home win against Hannover 96 is followed by a 2-2 draw at VfL Bochum and finally a great 4-1 win against Bayer Munich. Bayer 04 produce a gala performance with Franca and Dimitar Berbatov each scoring two goals for a team that plays the record champions into the ground.
Emotional roller coaster
The daily bread of the Bundesliga in somewhat neglected after a good start and soon tastes a bit insipid. Bayer again take their fans on an emotional roller coaster. The 4-1 win against Bayern is followed by a 2-0 defeat at Mainz 05. A couple of days later and the fans at the BayArena again celebrate an unforgettable feast of football:
Bayer 04 break the spell of Real
The opening game in the group phase of the Champions League produces bombshell straightaway: Bayer 04 SHINE with a 3-0 win against Real Madrid. Zidane, Ronaldo, Figo, Roberto Carlos, Beckham and all the other Galacticos are undermined by Ramelow, Freier, Berbatov and Co.. Jacek Krzynowek, Franca and Berbo score the goals in a great win.
Ups and downs in the Bundesliga
There are always ups and downs in the Bundesliga. Wins against Hamburg (3-0) and Bielefeld (3-2) are invariably followed by defeats (0-3 at Stuttgart, 0-3 at home to Schalke). There is no sign of consistency.
DFB Cup: exit in Round Two
Bayer 04 are knocked out of the DFB Cup in Round two after losing 3-2 to the champions of Germany and Cup winners Werder Bremen.
Very impressive against Roma
Everything goes to plan in the Champions League: The next quality opponent, AS Roma, are sent packing by Bayer 04 with a 3-1 win. Robson Ponte, Jacek Krzynowek and Franca score the goals for a very impressive Leverkusen team.
Eighth at the winter break and qualified for the Round of 16 of the Champions League
Bayer 04 settle down towards the end of the first half of the season, picking up two wins and a draw to finish in eighth place in the winter break. Team does brilliantly in the Champions League and qualifies for the Round of 16 with a 3-0 victory against Dynamo Kiev in the final group game.
Welcome back Rudi
He wasn't actually ever really away from Bayer 04 in spite of his activity as head coach of the Germany team. Rudi Völler still has his office in the HQ in the South Stand. In January 2005 he returns to the club fully in the role of sporting director responsible for sporting matters and directly connected with the CEO Wolfgang Holzhäuser.
Perfect start after winter break
Bayer 04 are straight out of the blocks in the New Year. A 3-0 away win in the first game at the new AWD Arena in Hanover is followed by a 4-0 victory over Bochum. After a 2-0 defeat in Munich in Bayer 04's last outing in the Olympic Stadium, there are two further wins against Mainz and FC Nürnberg. 12 points out of the first five games is not a bad return.
Liverpool prove to be too strong
Bayer 04 end the Champions League campaign at the Round of 16. Liverpool win both games 3-1 to end Bayer 04's European tour.
Classic final burst secures UEFA Cup place
The end of the season again test the nerves of all Bayer 04 fans. After disappointing defeats against Bielefeld and Dortmund, the European places seem to be out of sight. Thanks to an epic final burst (14 points from the last six games) Bayer 04 to move up to sixth place and thereby qualify for the UEFA Cup.