Leverkusen's Chance to Win First Title in 96 Years

Published May 19th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Just one point is all Bayer Leverkusen need to celebrate their first Bundesliga crown but they face a tenacious opponent in Unterhaching on Saturday who have one of the best home records in the league. 

Leverkusen are three points ahead of defending champions Bayern and a draw at Unterhaching would give them the first German title in their 96-year history regardless of the outcome of Bayern's last match to Werder Bremen. 

Bayern Munich and Kaiserslautern are the only teams to have taken full points at Unterhaching and the collective total of opposition goals scored in 17 games is a miserly 10 - the lowest total in the Bundesliga. 

Coach Lorenz-Gunter Kostner knows he and his men have performed a near miracle in staying up this season but has no illusions about the team visiting on Saturday. 

Theoretically Bayern can still pip Leverkusen at the post. A win at home over Werder Bremen and an upset victory by Unterhaching would leave them level on 73 points apiece but with Bayern having the better goal difference. 

It's a scenario, which gives Leverkusen chills. Club manager Rainer Calmund told city officials a week ago not to arrange any victory celebrations and threatened to shoot anyone who dared even mention the word 'title'. 

Wily Bayern manager Uli Hoeness has tried to stir the pot with provocative comments about Leverkusen coach Christoph Daum being 'so nervous he's wetting himself' but no one at Leverkusen headquarters is taking the bait. 

Daum says he was confident his club would win their first German league title saying, "our team is standing firm." 

Bayern themselves have a hard enough game as it is on Saturday with Bremen bent on revenge for their 3-0 defeat in the German Cup final two weeks ago. 

To add to their problems, international defender Jens Jeremies is out with a broken collarbone while midfield star Stefan Effenberg was hobbling round with a bruised ankle this week. 

In the relegation race three teams - Eintracht Frankfurt, Hansa Rostock and SSV Ulm - are fighting to avoid the one spot still vacant. 

Technically Borussia Dortmund are not out of the woods either. If Frankfurt win their appeal on Friday not to have two points deducted for financial irregularities 14th placed Dortmund are back in the soup. 

At least they will know their fate before travelling to Hertha Berlin on Saturday. 

The real showdown will be between Frankfurt and Ulm. Both need to play for a win while fading Rostock will be in a similar situation at Schalke. 

Kaiserslautern too must beat 1860 Munich if they are to guarantee themselves a ticket to Europe next season, a tall order as they are drifting - (Several Sources) 

 

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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