After dismissing Ottmar Hitzfeld, Bayern Munich appointed former Stuttgart boss Felix Magath as their new head coach. The former midfielder had not won any major honours at Stuttgart, but was an immediate success in Munich, winning the league and cup double in his first season.
Bayern’s nearest challengers in the league were also under the guidance of a new coach, Ralf Rangnick was appointed just a few weeks into the season following the departure of Jupp Heynckes.
Borussia Dortmund’s new boss Bert van Marwijk was less impressive, finishing the season in seventh place. Holders Werder Bremen continued to impress and finished third under Thomas Schaaf, with Hertha Berlin, Stuttgart, and Bayer Leverkusen qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
The 2004-05 season was a transitional one for many of Germany’s top teams, with Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and Schalke all appointing new head coaches.
With many other clubs suffering from financial problems, new Bayern boss Felix Magath was given money to spend, and brought in Bayer Leverkusen’s outstanding centre-back Lucio for €12 million, as well as Dortmund’s defensive midfielder Torsten Frings for €9.5m. Both proved to be pivotal players in the title race, with only striker Roy Makaay featuring in more games.
Despite receiving a big sum for Frings, Dortmund were not in a position to spend with the club looking to be heading towards bankruptcy by 2005. The biggest addition during the summer was the loan arrival of Ebi Smolarek from Feyenoord.
Similarly, Bayer Leverkusen had no major signings despite selling Lucio to Bayern Munich. Bochum midfielder Paul Freier arrived for €3.5m, and Swiss attacker Tranquillo Barnetta for €250k, who was then loaned out. Hannover’s total summer outlay was less than €2m, but included the signings of Barnetta, Ricardo Sousa, and Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke.
Werder Bremen capitalised on their league win in the previous season by signing German striker Miroslav Klose for €5m. Klose had been the top scorer at the 2002 World Cup, but was used only as a substitute at Euro 2004 due to injury. However, he had regained fitness by the end of the summer and netted 15 goals in 32 league games for Bremen.
Werder were unable to keep all of their title-winning squad together, and saw top scorer Ailton leave for Schalke, with defender Mladen Krstajic also joining him on a free transfer.
The 2004-05 Bundesliga season started later than expected as floodlight failure delayed the opening game between holders Werder Bremen and Schalke. Both teams were involved in the title race for much of the season until Bayern Munich pulled clear of the pack under new boss Felix Magath.
Nine wins down the final stretch meant Bayern eventually finished 14 points clear at the top of the table, with Ralf Rangnick’s Schalke finishing as runners-up. The battle for third place, and the final Champions League spot, went down to the final day, with just two points separating the four contenders. Werder ended up in third place, with Hertha Berlin, Stuttgart, and Bayer Leverkusen all qualifying for the UEFA Cup.
An additional UEFA Cup spot was awarded to Germany thanks to them coming out at the top of the Fair Play table, with 11th place Mainz qualifying due to their disciplinary record in the league.
After 10 years in the top flight, Hansa Rostock were relegated, meaning that there would be noside from the former East Germany in the Bundesliga for the 2005-06 season (Hertha Berlin were on the west side of the Berlin wall and forbidden from playing East German teams). Rostock finished between Bochum and Freiburg in the bottom three, with Borussia Monchengladbach staying up by one point.
PLAYER OF THE SEASON
With Bayern Munich having so many options in midfield, Ballack was singled out by Felix Magath as the only automatic starter. It was no wonder, as the powerhouse chipped in with 13 goals from the middle of the park.
MANAGER OF THE SEASON
Having won no competition greater than the Intertoto Cup as a manager, Magath was appointed Bayern Munich boss to replace Ottmar Hitzfeld. His first season could not have gone much better, winning both the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal.
MAREK MINTAL - 24 GOALS
Nurnberg stayed up by just three points at the end of the season, and would not have retained their top-flight status if it were not for the 24 goals of Slovakian attacking midfielder Marek Mintal, who became known as the “stealth bomber.”
TEAM OF THE SEASON
ENKE; MERTESACKER, LUCIO, MARCELO, BORDON; MINTAL, ERNST, BALLACK, SCHWEINSTEIGER, MARCELINHO; KLOSE, BERBATOV
MOST EXPENSIVE TRANSFER
Leverkusen to Bayern
KEY MOMENT OF THE SEASON
Bayern Munich’s key rival in the title race was Schalke, who actually defeated Bayern 1-0 on Matchday 25 to temporarily take top spot. However, that was Bayern’s last loss of the campaign, winning all nine of their remaining games as Schalke stuttered and eventually finished 14 points adrift.