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1.02.2024Bayer 04

Match of the month: 20 years ago – first point after the winter break

The Werkself are away to Hannover 96 on 14 February 2004 at the AWD-Arena which was then under reconstruction. Bayer 04 suffered two defeats after the winter break. The team led by coach Klaus Augenthaler lost 1-0 at SC Freiburg and 2-1 a week later at home to newly promoted Eintracht Frankfurt. Nevertheless, the Werkself are still in touching distance of the Champions League qualifying spots.

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Bayer 04 Leverkusen are in fourth place on 35 points just three points behind VfB Stuttgart. However, there is a lot of pressure under the Bayer Cross as the general manager Reiner Calmund is threatening wage cuts for the first time. The club has financial problems and not qualifying for the Champions League threatens the Werkself players with losing up to 20% of their wages. Not the best circumstances for playing a good game at Hannover. And those fears are confirmed.

Hannover look like the certain winners after 60 minutes. The Lower Saxony team lead 2-0 with goals from the American Clint Mathis and the Greek Kostas Konstantinidis. The Werkself produced almost nothing up to that point. Coach Klaus Augenthaler brings on the Brazilian Franca on 57 minutes in place of Bernd Schneider and that gives the team a lift. After a free kick and an assist from Lucio, Dimitar Berbatov pulls a goal back with a header on 65 minutes. Franca then nets the equaliser eight minutes later. Bayer 04 win the ball back again after the kick-off and Oliver Neuville hits the bar from the edge of the box. The Werkself almost turned round a supposedly lost game in ten minutes. The visitors upped the tempo in the last 20 minutes, are denied by the bar again and several times by the Hannover goalkeeper, Marc Ziegler. The game ends in a 2-2 draw.

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Bayer 04 qualify for the Champions League at the end of the season in third place but general manager Reiner Calmund ends working for the club at his own request at the end of the season. He departs after almost 30 years in different posts at Bayer 04 and there are one or two tears in his eyes as well as those of the Bayer 04 fans.

 

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