LIt didn’t look like it originally, but for a few minutes there was high tension in a game that had seemed like a friendly summer kick in the meantime and that Bayer Leverkusen finally won 2-1 (1-0) against SC Freiburg. After 72 minutes, a message from Bielefeld reached coach Christian Streich on the Baden bench that Arminia had scored to make it 1-0 against Leipzig.
Freiburg were 1-0 down, but with two goals, the club’s first participation in the Champions League suddenly seemed within reach. “That gave us more energy,” said Streich, and Janik Haberer actually made it 1-1 (88′) before Jonathan Schmid’s shot narrowly missed the post in added time.
In the end, Leipzig managed to equalize and when Freiburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken stormed into the Leverkusen penalty area, Exequiel Palacios scored the winning goal for the Werkself. “It hurts a bit,” said Freiburg captain Christian Günter, but SC still has the biggest game of the season ahead of them: next weekend the club will play RB Leipzig in the final of the DFB Cup. And so after this game the stage belonged to Rudi Völler.
The managing director of Bayer Leverkusen is retiring after more than 40 years in professional football. After the final whistle, he went on a lap of honor with the players, who celebrated third place in the end-of-season table and qualified for the Champions League.
“You’re sitting here in your chair…”
Völler then climbed onto the fence in front of the fan curve and celebrated with the thousands of people wearing “Thank you Rudi” T-shirts. Even before the kick-off, the Leverkusen fans had performed a nice choreography, in the context of which a “best of” Völler sayings was presented.
At the top of the ranking they put a statement from the famous cheese and wheat beer interview with Waldemar Hartmann from 2003 after a disappointing international match in Iceland: “You’re sitting here in your chair, you’ve drunk three wheat beers and you’re nice and relaxed.” , Völler, as team boss, had thrown at the ARD reporter. But the official part of the farewell was rather unspectacular.
Nobody gave a speech of thanks, managing director Fernando Carro and Werner Wenning, head of the shareholders’ committee, presented a souvenir photo, and Völler addressed a few brief words to the audience. “Today is the day on which I would like to say thank you to all of you, everyone who has supported our wonderful club and of course me with a lot of passion,” he said.
In addition, the Ballermann classic “There is only one Rudi Völler” was played, about which the celebrated has often told how little he likes him. Perhaps those responsible for the team, which ends this successful season in third place behind the giants from Munich and Dortmund, did not want to steal the show.
For a long time, however, not that much happened on the pitch, because Freiburg didn’t seem to believe at first that Leipzig could lose and that they could still jump to fourth place themselves. For Freiburg, however, it was also about stabilizing and getting in good shape for the actual highlight of the season.
In the three games before this last matchday against Gladbach (3:3), in Hoffenheim (4:3) and against Union Berlin (1:4) they had conceded a total of ten goals. This phase should definitely come to an end before the cup final. “We were well organised, we worked well against the ball,” Streich said with satisfaction.
After 54 minutes, however, they made one of those momentous mistakes that have so often led to goals being conceded. Philipp Lienhart was not optimal with a long ball, and Nico Schlotterbeck, who rushed to help, behaved awkwardly in the following duel against Patrick Schick, whose cross pass Lucas Alario pushed into the Freiburg goal.
In the 72nd minute, the news of Bielefeld’s lead against Leipzig finally reached Leverkusen, and Rudi Völler’s farewell was adorned with a few really exciting minutes of football. Even if in the end it was mainly in Leipzig that we could celebrate.