Kießling stays at Bayer 04
Stefan Kießling remains with the Werkself following on from his emotional farewell in the last match of the 2017/18 season: 'Kies' has been working alongside Rudi Völler as adviser to the sporting management since October 2018. He forms a link between the team, management and other sections of the club. Permanent departures from the Black and Reds are Bernd Leno (Arsenal) and Benjamin Henrichs (AS Monaco). Niklas Lomb goes out on loan to SV Sandhausen.
Following the departure of Henrichs, Mitchell Weiser is signed as a new right-back. The Germany U21 international arrives from Hertha Berlin and meets up with his father at Leverkusen where Patrick Weiser is the U17 coach. The new first choice keeper is Lukas Hradecky, signed from Eintracht Frankfurt having just won the DFB Cup. The Werkself are again active on the international stage in Brazil with the signing of attacker Paulinho from Vasco da Gama Rio de Janeiro.
Alario secures second round berth
The Werkself meet Baden-Württemberg Oberliga team CfR Pforzheim in the first round of the DFB Cup. Playing against very deep lying hosts, Lucas Alario scores the only goal of the game from the penalty spot (27'). Bayer 04 are drawn against Borussia Mönchengladbach in the second round of the cup.
Three league defeats for starters
Gladbach are also the first Bundesliga opponents for the Werkself. After a goalless first half, the Foals end up winning 2-0. The following two matches against VfL Wolfsburg and FC Bayern both end in 3-1 defeats. Leon Bailey scores the first league goal of the season for the Werkself against the Wolves. The first victory of the campaign comes on matchday four against Mainz 05 (1-0).
Successful Europa League group stage
In contrast, the group stage in the Europa League is particularly successful. In the opening match against Ludogorets Rasgrad (Bulgaria), the Werkself comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Only the game at FC Zürich ends in defeat (2-3) and Bayer 04 finish top of the group with 13 points.
Bosz takes over from Herrlich
The Werkself finish the first half of the season in the Bundesliga in ninth place with 24 points after seven wins, three draws and seven defeats. Bayer 04 are in the Round of 16 in the DFB Cup after beating Borussia Mönchengladbach 5-0 in the second round. Head coach Heiko Herrlich is relieved of his duties in the winter break and Peter Bosz is brought in as the new coach. The former Holland international was previously at Ajax and Borussia Dortmund.
End of the road in cup competitions
Bayer 04 play FC Heidenheim in the Round of 16 of the DFB Cup. After a goal scored by Julian Brandt just before half-time (44'), Heidenheim hit back in the second 45 to win the game to go through to the quarter-finals. The Werkself are also knocked out of the Europa League. After a goalless draw in Krasnodar, the Russians take a late lead in the second leg (84') and the equaliser from Aránguiz (87') is not enough due to the away goals rule.
40 years in the Bundesliga
The Werkself were promoted to Germany's top flight from Bundesliga 2 on 13 May 1979. Reason enough to celebrate "40 years of the Bundesliga under the Bayer Cross" on the second weekend in May in 2019. The celebrations begin on Friday night with the "Day of the Promotion Team" with the heroes of 1979 meeting up again at the BayArena. On Saturday morning, the Bayer 04 Bundesliga All-Stars join up with them promotion team and are honoured before the kick-off at the Bundesliga match at the BayArena. A huge choreography is organised for the home game against FC Schalke 04 and the Werkself also play in a special kit. The match ends all square at 1-1. The Sunday is held under the motto "Day of Tradition". The Werkself Bundesliga All-Stars play each other at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium in a thrilling encounter.
The second half of the Bundesliga campaign is much better: The 1-0 defeat against Borussia Mönchengladbach in Peter Bosz' first game in charge is followed by four wins including a 3-1 victory against FC Bayern. The Werkself do lose three games in succession in the middle of the second half of the season and qualifying for Europe appears increasingly out of reach. But then comes an impressive run for the Black and Reds: The Bosz team pick up 16 out of a possible 18 points in the last six league games. The fixture against Eintracht Frankfurt is one of the most spectacular Werkself performances of the season. The scoreline is 6-1 after just 36 minutes at the BayArena – that is also the final score. Ahead of the last matchday, Bayer 04 are certain of qualification to the Europa League leaving the match at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin to settle the final outcome of the season. The Werkself clock up a runaway 5-1 win that takes them up to fourth place for the first time in the season and also seals progress to the Champions League.
2018/19 also brings the big breakthrough for Kai Havertz. With 2,902 minutes on the pitch in the Bundesliga, the home-grown talent is one of the key players for the Werkself and only central defender Jonathan Tah plays more (2,939). Havertz scores 17 goals and provides four assists making him the top goalscorer of the season for the Black and Reds.