The ambitious Bavarians, coached by way of Giovanni Trapattoni, had added the German Cup and now-defunct German League Cup to their Bundesliga crown and boasted Lothar Matthhäus, Giovane Elber, Oliver Kahn, Bixente Lizarazu and Mario Basler amongst their playing squad. Kaiserslautern coach Rehhagel knew most of them nicely, his dismissal via Bayern four days before the primary leg of the 1996 UEFA Cup final led him to his task with Die Roten Teufel (The purple Devils).
His revenge become first quick — as an 80th-minute aim from Michael Schjonberg secured the newly-promoted aspect a surprise win on the hole day — then deep, with Kaiserslautern in short breaking Bayern and Borussia Dortmund's decade-lengthy duopoly with a identify win forged on that first day.
whilst Bayern had the celebs, Kaiserslautern were a tightly-bound team who'd turn out to be aware of prevailing. "it'd sound stupid, but all of the games we received inside the second tier helped instill a triumphing spirit," Danish defender Schjonberg later explained.
rich in historical past and team spirit
The winning spirit that Schjonberg recognized proved tough to interrupt and after hitting the pinnacle of the table after four games, Rehhagel's men couldn't be stopped.
The German teach's global reputation in large part comes from his time in fee of Greece, while he led the one hundred fifty-1 outsiders to Euro 2004 glory with a protecting, aerially-dominant facet who relied closely on set portions. However that wasn't the case with Kaiserslautern.
even as their 21-goal attacking fulcrum Olaf Marschall was an ordinary burly target man, Rehhagel's facet additionally determined room for the abilities of Ciriaco Sforza. The Swiss playmaker had excelled in an early spell at Kaiserslautern before being forged aside by way of Bayern and Inter Milan however have become one of the league's maximum essential players on his go back to Kaiserslautern.
gamers given license
"Otto gave us our freedom at the pitch," Marschall instructed UEFA's internet site in 2015. "He instructed us the lineup; we did the rest. Absolutely everyone helped out in defense, even the strikers, chasing the ball as soon as we'd misplaced it. A chunk like Dortmund once they received their latest Bundesliga titles. Otto had this outstanding feel for how to build a crew."
as well as Sforza, Rehhagel relied on Brazilian winger Ratinho for creativity and complemented that pair with stable midfield employees as well as occasional outings for brand new signing Michael Ballack, who'd joined from Chemnitz at the start of the season.
As with Greece, set portions had been vital, with Sforza's delivery and Marschall's heading critical however it became the usage of Czech international Mirsolav Kadlec as a sweeper that gave a relentlessly lively facet a critical tactical gain. The spare guy on the returned changed into comfortable enough in ownership to move in to midfield and add numbers there whilst fine.
not like Greece, this turned into now not a limited aspect. Rehhagel defined himself as a "democratic dictator" whose catchphrase become "the selections I make are usually accurate" but a pretty ragtag group of gamers, together with an getting older Andreas Brehme, who scored the winner in the 1990 world Cup very last, offered in to his techniques wholesale.
Doing the double over Bayern
"when i used to be on vacation the cellphone rang non-prevent," Sforza said of his former boss. "while Otto needs something he's going to not go away you on my own."
whatever his techniques, Rehhagel's group were a pressure of nature. After their establishing day defeat, rivals Bayern went on a fifteen-suit unbeaten run, retaining the pressure at the red Devils until they met an Ulf Kirsten-stimulated Bayer Leverkusen in past due November and lost four-2.
per week later, a Didi Hamann very own intention and a strike from Bulgarian midfielder Marian Hristov helped Kaiserslautern do the double over the Bavarians in the front of a full residence up at the Betzenberg hill and take a seven-point lead on the pinnacle of the desk.
nevertheless, the footballing public changed into skeptical. Now the strain of expectation would virtually inform? now not a bit of it. In fact it was Bayern who cracked first, losing 3 at the jump in February and March, allowing Kaiserslautern to seal the title with a recreation to spare with a jubilant four-0 home win over Wolfsburg. It was accompanied via a party that lasted the gap in addition to the team had finished.
precise times start to fade
but, notwithstanding a 5th-place finish in the following marketing campaign and a run to the Champions League quarter-finals in 1998-ninety nine, where they have been spanked via Bayern Munich 6-0 on combination), the hangover subsequently kicked in.
Brehme and Kadlec had left after the name win, Sforza then fell out with Rehhagel and Ballack changed into controversially bought to Bayer Leverkusen at the quit of a season where Bayern regained the identify.
although they made it to the UEFA Cup semifinals in 2001, the pink Devils could never return to such heights. They skilled close to-fatal economic issues within the early a part of that decade and bounced among the top two divisions before falling in to the 1/3 tier in 2018.
With the current season on maintain, they take a seat precariously in 14th and could potentially fall nevertheless further. But they'll always have 1998.