RB Leipzig changing Borussia Dortmund as Bayern Munich’s largest Bundesliga rivals


Julian Nagelsmann, RB Leipzig‘s progressive coach, faces a brush together with his Augsburg previous within the Friday Bundesliga sport (2:20 p.m. ET, stream reside on ESPN+), the prelude to an enormous Champions League week for the membership. ESPN’s Bundesliga commentator Derek Rae believes Leipzig have an opportunity to develop into the second-force in German soccer.

That Julian Nagelsmann, at 33 years outdated, has ascended to the higher slopes of world soccer’s teaching mountain is nothing wanting outstanding. The story started within the foothills of Landsberg am Lech, his dwelling group a brief drive from Augsburg. An aspiring central defender with the FC Augsburg reserve workforce, Nagelsmann’s enjoying profession ended abruptly at 20 on account of a knee harm. His supervisor on the time, Thomas Tuchel, requested him to scout forthcoming opponents, and solely then did the younger Bavarian start to consider teaching as a possible profession.

What a robust fist Nagelsmann has manufactured from it, initially with TSG Hoffenheim and now Leipzig, the enticing and up-and-coming jap metropolis that in some methods matches his personal trajectory and ambitions.

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As a result of they have been constructed in a manner that’s far faraway from the normal German thought of what a soccer membership ought to resemble, RB Leipzig are by no means going to be significantly enticing or interesting to the final football-watching public. But there’s nothing however the utmost respect for Nagelsmann and an acceptance that his visionary methods shall be accompanying us for the long run.

Leipzig went to nice lengths to safe his companies in time for the 2019-20 season, figuring out they wanted a training improve. The {hardware} was already in place with a desire for counter-pressing soccer, however CEO Oliver Mintzlaff understood that extra versatility, particularly an efficient possession sport, was wanted in opposition to deeper-sitting opponents.

Nagelsmann made seen enhancements final season, though outcomes have been blended. On the one hand, a Champions League semifinal look and one other third-place end within the Bundesliga converse to excessive requirements. On the opposite, the second half of the marketing campaign yielded eight factors fewer than the Hinrunde. Too many factors have been frittered away at dwelling, and Nagelsmann has conceded that if he received one factor incorrect within the early a part of the pandemic, it was leaving the gamers to their very own gadgets in an effort to present them area amid the difficult circumstances. He says he will not repeat that mistake.

The large query coming into this season was how one can change a formidable aim scorer — specifically Timo Werner, who netted 28 occasions within the Bundesliga final season earlier than becoming a member of Chelsea. Unusually, Leipzig have completed it by committee, together with a number of defenders. No-one within the first workforce has scored greater than 4 targets via 20 matchdays, however Leipzig have nonetheless unfold the wealth effectively, with 15 completely different scorers.

Once you add to the equation the truth that Leipzig have the tightest defence within the league, with solely 17 targets conceded and 10 clear sheets recorded, you get the image. Rekordmeister Bayern Munich will blow any workforce away with sheer attacking firepower, however Leipzig are unmatched on the subject of doggedness and retaining the ball out of the web.

One of many keys to their success is Hungary worldwide goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, probably the greatest within the league for some time now. Tuesday within the Champions League will imply going dwelling to Budapest, the place he’ll face the membership that was as soon as his dwelling: Liverpool, the place he technically spent six years regardless of by no means showing for the Merseysiders. One potential downside Leipzig face is Gulacsi’s paltry buyout clause of round €10 million and €15 million, which could be triggered this summer time. Borussia Dortmund are definitely one membership in want of a goalkeeping enhancement, however Gulacsi, whose deal in any other case runs till 2023, appears settled within the metropolis of heroes.

Dayot Upamecano will virtually definitely be on his manner out within the shut season for the buyout determine of simply greater than €40m. As mentioned on this area beforehand, I will be shocked if his final vacation spot is not Bayern, though there may be competitors from high Premier League golf equipment. Plans are already afoot for all times after Upamecano due to the arrival of Josko Gvardiol and, probably, Mohamed Simakan.

For now, it is a movable feast within the positions round Upamecano, and Nagelsmann is spoiled for selection between Nordi Mukiele, Willi Orban, Marcel Halstenberg and, now that he is match once more, Lukas Klostermann. Place any two from that group beside Upamecano and you’ve got defensive solidity.

Not accidentally, Leipzig have scored twice as many targets from the left than from the correct, and you may put lots of that right down to the thrusting Angelino down that flank. Marcel Sabitzer is having a banner season and thriving as captain, orchestrating from central midfield.

The 2 attacking midfield positions are essential to Leipzig’s success, and in Dani Olmo and Christopher Nkunku, Nagelsmann has two artists who can change the course of any sport. Each get fouled rather a lot, each can create in addition to rating.

The centre-forward place is barely odd in that whereas Werner was their major scorer, it was not often as a real attacker via the center. Leipzig have a tendency to love a set, bodily, aerially succesful line chief. Yussuf Poulsen, who first joined after they have been within the third tier, matches the invoice completely, though rotation is the norm on this place. Alexander Sorloth has usually discovered the going powerful since shifting to Germany in the summertime, scoring simply as soon as in 18 league appearances. Emil Forsberg, although extra an off-the-front participant, has had extra success when deployed via the center than the Norwegian newcomer.

That is the statistic I significantly like as regards the Nagelsmann XI: In case you embrace Angelino (principally a wing-back reasonably than a full-back), 13 Bundesliga targets have come from Leipzig defenders, together with two extra final week within the 3-0 win at Schalke 04.

Actually, we’re solely scratching the floor of RB Leipzig right here. It is such a reliable squad that Nagelsmann can and does shuttle gamers out and in at will. Above all, Leipzig are a membership with a plan and devoid of the emotional every day cleaning soap opera that may engulf, say, Dortmund. Calmly, Leipzig have made strides in every of their 5 Bundesliga seasons.

Catching Bayern from seven factors behind is unquestionably a activity too nice, and Nagelsmann has stated defending a Champions League place stays the precedence, however I will not be shocked if RB Leipzig stay the second drive in German soccer within the brief to medium time period.



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