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17.10.2021Bayer 04

#RoadtoGlasgow – On This Day: FC Barcelona vs Bayer 04 2-1 (2-1)

Bayer 04 played at the Nou Camp for the second time since 1988. Back then, the team won 1-0 in the quarter-finals on the way to winning the UEFA Cup. 13 years later it was Barcelona who came out on top but it was also a special match this time round.

Pre-match situation

Bayer 04 set off for Barcelona on the back of three wins in the first three group matches. The Werkself had put together an impressive run with none of the previous 15 matches of the season ending in defeat. However, it was not possible to say the Toppmöller team were the favourites at the Nou Camp. The star-studded Catalan team had suffered a narrow 2-1 defeat at Leverkusen three weeks before but they were able to register impressive wins against Lyon (2-0) and away to Fenerbahce (3-0). "It's a very important game for us," said Barca coach Carles Rexach ahead of the return match against Bayer 04, whose general manager Reiner Calmund was waxing lyrical: "Nou Camp is a legend, is a religion. It’s sensational when you experience this myth."

The match

The football temple was not sold out with a crowd of 50,000 but the atmosphere at the Nou Camp appeared to impress the Werkself as much as the power of the attacks that the hosts directed at the Bayer goal from the kick-off. Barca took the lead on 12 minutes when Javier Saviola provided the assist for Patrik Kluivert. Other clear-cut chances for the Catalans were frustrated by goalkeeper Jörg Butt and defender Diego Placente on the line. Against the run of play, Carsten Ramelow netted the equaliser from an Oliver Neuville corner (32'). The joy was short lived: Luis Enrique restored the lead for the hosts from a set-piece six minutes later. Without Jens Nowotny, who went into the game with a slight knee injury and was substituted at half-time, Bayer 04 were exposed to greater pressure from the opponents at the start of the second half. The Werkself got back into the game after the hour mark and had good chances through Bernd Schneider (63') and Ulf Kirsten (65') who was unable to convert the best opportunity to level from eight yards out. In spite of an impressive final spurt, Bayer 04 had to accept a first defeat in 16 matches.

Moments of the game

If the Werkself had made it all too easy for Barcelona to open the scoring when Saviola received the ball from a quickly free taken free kick by Rivaldo and put it through to Kluivert, the 2-1 winner for the hosts was almost even more annoying. There was confusion in the Leverkusen six-yard box when Xavi whipped in a free kick: Jörg Butt was late coming out but he saved Kluivert's header from close range only for Luis Enrique to smash the rebound into the back of the net from three yards out.

Man of the match

Michael Ballack not only set up Carsten Ramelow's leveller at 1-1 with a flick-on but also played an integral part in most of the attacking moves for the Werkself in the second half and was primarily responsible for making it exciting again at the end.

Reaction

"Don't worry, we're going through," said Ballack to calm the nerves of anybody who was worried about the situation in Group F after the 2-1 defeat. While the Germany international felt "a defeat at Barcelona was the most normal thing in the world," Reiner Calmund feared: "We'll have to worry about qualifying for the next round right to the last minute. The last match against Lyon will be a battle of nerves and we have to be prepared for that." Klaus Toppmöller was more relaxed. The coach was "annoyed that we lost," but he also saw the positives: "We can head home with our heads held high because we were impressive in spite of the defeat. I'm sure we can go through to the second group stage."

What the ppapers say

And the Spanish media also recognised the Barca win was a hard-fought victory. "Barcelona triumph by the skin of their teeth," reported El Periodico de Catalunya. In the Sport it read: "Barcelona produced magical football but kept the fans on the edge of their seats at the end." And the La Vanguardia declared: "Barcelona flew out of the blocks but then faced a tough task."

Match stats

Barcelona: Bonano – Puyol, Christanval, de Boer, Coco – Luis Enrique, Xavi (Gerard 48’), Cocu – Kluivert, Saviola (Geovanni 79’), Rivaldo (Gabri 74’)

Bayer 04: Butt – Schneider, Nowotny (Zivkovic 46’), Lucio, Placente – Ramelow (Brdaric 76’), Bastürk, Ballack, Ze Roberto – Kirsten (Sebescen 76’), Neuville

Goals: 1-0 Kluivert (12’), 1-1 Ramelow (32’), 2-1 Luis Enrique (38’)

Booked: Luis Enrique, Christanval, Puyol – Lucio, Placente

Chances ratio: 8-4

Shots on goal: 9-11; on target: 6-5

Corners: 6-3

Referee: Pierluigi Collina (Italy)

Attendance: 49,000

Matchday images

Support

Over 1,000 travelling fans supported Bayer 04 at Barcelona. Many of them made the long journey by coach. And some of them added on a couple of days on the Costa Brava. As with Karl Storr, who stayed along his friends from the Black and Red Desperados fan club at the tourist resort of Calella, around 60 kilometres north of Barcelona. The unusual perspective from the away stand has remained in his memory of the match at the Nou Camp: "We sat at the top in the corner of this huge stadium and we could hardly recognise our players as they were so far away. It was impressive nevertheless."

State of play: Group F

Barcelona moved top of the group after the 2-1 win thanks to a better goal difference compared with Leverkusen who were equal on points. Lyon were were still in the running in third place after beating Fenerbahce 3-1. Bayer 04 could qualify for the next group stage with a win in Istanbul on 23 October.

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