When Bayer Leverkusen's 'World Class' Side Nearly Won A Treble But Ended With Nothing
Back in 2002 Bayer Leverkusen were one of the best teams in Europe but ended up the nearly men as they lost out on a treble and ended with nothing.
The Bundesliga side had a slew of great players in their squad and looked set to win the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League but finished the 2001/02 season completely empty handed.
In the league Klaus Toppmöller's side threw away a five point lead with three games remaining to finish second to Borussia Dortmund and they came as close to winning in Europe too.
In May 2002, Bayer Leverkusen lost out on three trophies in the space of 11 days.- Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) May 1, 2020
May 4th - Lost the Bundesliga title by one point.
May 11th - Lost in the German Cup final.
May 15th - Lost in the Champions League final.
Could you be arsed! :joy::joy::joy: pic.twitter.com/vP4VOtBcmC
A REMINDER:- Football Remind (@FootballRemind) November 22, 2016
Bayer Leverkusen 01/02 season has been named "Treble Horror", finishing R/U in the Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League. pic.twitter.com/A4n6ZLvqRs
Their impressive team finished second to Barcelona in the first group stages in a group that also included Lyon and Fenerbahce. The Germans even beat Barca at home 2-1.
In the second group stage Bayer topped the table ahead of Deportivo la Coruna, Arsenal and Juventus. In the quarter finals they did away with Liverpool and in the semi finals they beat triple Premier League winners Manchester United on away goals.
And so the stage was set for a final in Glasgow against Real Madrid. The game is best remembered for Zinedine Zidane scoring possibly the best goal in a Champions League final, the volley from the edge of the area separating the two sides.
But we shouldn't forget how good a side Bayer had then. The penalty taking goalkeeper Hans Jorg Butt was brilliant between the sticks, Brazilian Lucio would go on to win the World Cup that summer and a treble with Jose Mourinho's Inter a few years later.
In midfield the German duo of Michael Ballack and Carsten Ramelow created an incredibly solid backbone that was also creative.
And they created for an attacking duo of the tricky Yıldıray Basturk in the number 10 role and the dangerous Oliver Neuville upfront.
A young Dimitar Berbatov say on the bench that night in 2002 and Brazilian Ze Roberto wasn't available for the final.
It was period in which Leverkusen were often competitive in Germany but the club were never able to get their hands on any silverware.
Even back then though they weren't able to keep hold of their best players with rivals Bayern Munich often picking up their talent with Ballack and Ze Roberto signing pre contract agreements with Bayern in the January and leaving that summer.
Are Leverkusen 2001/02 the best team not to have won a trophy?