Top-class new signings
Bayer 04 dig deep and strengthen the squad for the new season with lots of top players: Michael Ballack, Bernd Schneider, Oliver Neuville, Robson Ponte and Thomas Brdaric are genuine high-quality performance. Other new arrivals are Franck Juric, Torben Hoffman and Vratislav Gresko.
UEFA Champions League: Exit at group stage
In the UEFA Champions League Bayer 04 are in a group with Lazio, Dynamo Kiev and NK Maribor. In the last group match at home to Maribor, Bayer 04 have to win and Lazio get at least a point in Kiev. Lazio do win 1-0 in Kiev but Bayer 04 only draw 0-0 with Maribor. The exit from the UEFA Champions League.
Next up is the third round of the UEFA Cup against Udinese.
Although Bayer 04 secure a great position with a 1-0 away win the return match at home ends in a 2-1 defeat and exit from the competition.
Exciting football in the Bundesliga
Christophe Daum's team do much better in the Bundesliga. The team play exciting, attacking football and remain unbeaten at the BayArena (13 wins, four draws) and also produce spectacular performances away from home.
9-1 in Ulm: Biggest Bayer win in the history the Bundesliga
What a match that was! The once again outstanding Emerson (two), Zé Roberto (two), Paulo Rink, Ulf Kirsten, Oliver Neuville, Michael Ballack and Bernd Schneider score the nine goals in a sparkling performance Bayer Leverkusen team. "Football is an art form," writes the Express. "So complete that the travelling fans trample the mortar from the away section at the Donaustadion in Ulm. The Kölnische Rundschau reports: "double and three time wall passes at high tempo left the opposition no chance of challenging. Not much was missing and one or other could have done a triple loop." And the Kicker writes: "Leverkusen have never been so close to the title." True indeed. After 25 matches Bayern Munich and Bayer 04 are top of the table with 53 points each. Bayern have somewhat better goal difference.
Bayer’s record: Eight internationals in one match
On 29 March 2000 there was a special friendly international for Bayer 04 in Zagreb between Croatia and Germany (1-1). Leverkusen provided a sensational nine players for this match. Jens Nowotny, Michael Ballack and Ulf Kirsten start for the team under coach Erich Ribbeck who over the course of the game also brings on Carsten Ramelow, Paulo Rink and Stefan Beinlich. Only Oliver Neuville does not play. Croatia had two other Bayer pros on the pitch in Robert Kovac and Boris Zivkovic.
Statisticians have worked out that it's a record. Eight international players from one club used in a match as never happened before in 92 years of Germany internationals.
Bayer 04 go top of the table on matchday 27 after a 2-0 win at 1860 Munich. And they stay there even after matchday 33. A three point lead over Bayern Munich. Bayern have the better goal difference. A point in the last match at SpVgg Unterhaching would be enough. Just one point…
A name, a place, that is burned for ever in the soul of Bayer fans. And scars are left behind. The whole of Leverkusen expressed its connection to Bayer 04 ahead of this match. Red and black Bayer flags all over the city. Everywhere expressions of support and great anticipation dominates. Thousands make the journey to Unterhaching in Bavaria. They want to be there when Bayer 04 lift the Championship Shield for the first time. However, it all turns out completely different on that 20 May. The first setback came with Michael Ballack's own goal on 21 minutes. Marcus Oberleitner sealed Bayer's worst defeat with 12 minutes to go. The dream of the title was gone as Bayern Munich beat Werder Bremen 3-1 at home and because they had a seven goal better goal difference that meant they were champions when level on points.
Players, coaches, club management and fans was so desolate after the massive disappointment but the team is greeted by thousands of fans at the BayArena the day after the game. ‘Now more than ever’ was the maxim.