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1.10.2023Bayer 04

Match of the month: 25 years ago – comeback in Frankfurt

Bayer 04 Leverkusen travel to newly promoted Eintracht Frankfurt on matchday eight in the 1998/99 season. The Werkself are third in the table with 12 points albeit with a four and seven point gap to the two Munich clubs Bayern and 1860 in first and second place. The start of the season is not seen as successful in spite of the high position. So three points are almost a must at Frankfurt.

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The Werkself have a miserable first half. Without taking on the opponents, with lots of mistakes both in defence and in attack. Poor passing, bad to non-existent challenges. The Frankfurt team are deservedly 2-0 up at half-time with goals from the Chinese player Chen Yang and Alexander Schur. The Bayer 04 team go into the dressing room depressed and disappointed and they sit on the benches in silence.

The dressing room door is suddenly ripped open and an enraged Reiner ‘Calli’ Calmund comes in, he kicks a metal case across the room and issues a number of choice words. He shouts at the team for a minute, turns round and slams the door as he leaves. Coach Christoph Daum quietly looks into the eyes of his players and says: "That was the emotional reaction to our first half. Now we'll look at the rational side."

He puts Jens Nowotny in a back three with Robert Kovac and Markus Happe. He demands man-to-man marking in the first 15 minutes of the second half to finally be able to make challenges and he calls for a more aggressive approach. Ulf Kirsten pulls a goal back on 54 minutes. Bayer 04 don't give Eintracht Frankfurt an inch. Attack after attack rolls towards the Eintracht goal. Christoph Daum brings on Niko Kovac in place of his brother Robert on 73 minutes to turn the back three into a back two and thereby have an extra player in midfield.

The German Croat scores the equaliser two minutes later but that is not enough for Bayer 04. Thomas Reichenberger comes on in place of Paulo Rink on 79 minutes and he scores with a tap-in on 85 minutes with the winning goal to make it 3-2 to Bayer 04. In response to the question of what he said to the team in the dressing room, Reiner Calmund answers: "I politely asked them to run a bit more."

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