RB LEIPZIG SEASON PREVIEW: THE RED BULL MODEL SET TO CONTINUE UNDER A FAMILIAR HAND
RB Leipzig are the typical new kid on the block. Having been taken over by the beverage giant Red Bull when they were in the fifth division, the club has seen its fortunes shoot up massively. Having roared through the lower divisions to the Bundesliga in just seven years, they made their first foray into the top-flight in 2016. Since then, they have finished runners-up twice and have become regular top-four contenders as well as making inroads into the Champions League.
NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN
Their former manager Julian Nagelsmann transformed the side into one of Europe’s most exciting, which thrilled audiences every season, and reached the semi-final of Europe’s premier competition in 2020. To achieve that feat in just their 11th year of existence is no mean thing.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) August 13, 2020
With the departure of the charismatic manager this season after a disappointing loss to Borussia Dortmund in the final of the DFB-Pokal, Leipzig hired RB Salzburg’s head coach Jesse Marsch. The American had been hugely successful in winning honours in his homeland and Austria, the latter in a league which they dominated.
The Austrian Bundesliga's honours 2020/21
— FC Red Bull Salzburg EN (@FCRBS_en) May 21, 2021
Taking on the might of German powerhouses is a slightly different task, however. Can the upstarts continue riding their supreme form or will they regress under a new head coach? It is too early to call right now but the Red Bull project has shown no signs of slowing down yet.
TRANSFERS TO BE KEY
Leipzig have already been hurt in the transfer market with some key sales. Young defender Ibrahim Konate left for Liverpool while centre-back Dayot Upacemano joined Bayern Munich. Talented Dutch winger Justin Kluivert left after the end of his loan spell.
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) May 25, 2021
These have been significant exits mainly because Leipzig do not change their core much. All these names had played extensively under Nagelsman which underlines their importance to the team. The Red Bull model depends on going after exciting talents who can develop into world-beaters. They know that letting go of players is inevitable since the club’s model depends on that.
I’m focused on being the very best version of myself pic.twitter.com/Pc5wYxFswz
— André Silva (@andrevsilva19) July 23, 2021
However, they have been busy in strengthening themselves as well with some key acquisitions. Andre Silva, last season’s second-highest goalscorer in Bundesliga, joined for 25 million euros from Frankfurt. Ajax teenager Brian Brobbey has also signed up for Die Roten Bullen while Czech defender Josko Gvardiol will finally get his chance. The main worry remains centered around key pieces Marcel Sabitzer and Emil Forsberg.
RB Leipzig have:
-Replaced Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konate with Mohamed Simakan, Josko Gvardiol and potentially Maxence Lacroix
-Signed Angeliño and Benjamin Henrichs on permanent deals
-Signed Brian Brobbey on a free transfer
-Completed a £23m deal for André Silva
— Zach Lowy (@ZachLowy) July 2, 2021
The Swede, Forsberg, in particular, had a brilliant Euro 2020 campaign and could fetch a few offers from around Europe. Nevertheless, Marsch has a supremely talented and upcoming squad that can keep their position among the upper echelons of the table. If they can bring in a few more players which is entirely likely, the chances of a top-three finish will be solidified further.
SCORE MORE, CONCEDE LESS
Nagelsmann had been considered by many as developing the team into one that others would not like to face. Though they finished 13 points adrift of the Bavarians in second place, they had the fewest goals conceded with 32. That spoke volumes of the German manager’s supremely efficient defence which is now shorn of its two key leaders.
Sunday's for stats 📊
He's only conceded four goals so far, saving 78% of shots on target ⛔
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) November 15, 2020
Goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi has been a stalwart in goal who kept 15 clean sheets and has been with the club since 2015. On the flip side of this, they also scored the fewest goals in the top five with no player entering double digits in the league. The highest scorer was captain Sabitzer with eight goals.
🇦🇹 RB Leipzig with / without Marcel Sabitzer starting in the Bundesliga this season
🆚 Games: 19 / 8
✅ Wins: 10 / 7
🤝 Draws: 5 / 1
❌ Defeats: 4 / 0
🤔 Win percentage: 52.6% / 87.5%
🗞️ Tottenham remain keen on the Austrian midfielder… pic.twitter.com/K5YHNXkeO2
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) April 7, 2021
That has certainly influenced their thinking in getting Silva who netted 28 goals last term in his hottest season ever. The Portuguese will certainly be a key man who will have plenty of help behind him. Dani Olmo (five goals, nine assists), Christopher Nkunku (six goals, six assists) along with others are all creative playmakers filled with technical skills. They will be key in Leipzig turning into a scoring machine at a rapid pace which they have in abundance.
Furthermore, their wing-backs are known to constantly get forward and attack which Marsch will utilise to the maximum. Challenging for the title is a constant goal for Die Roten Bullen which the owners would like to achieve as soon as possible. Marsch knows that he must improve upon Nagelsmann’s work whose shadow will loom large.
Oliver #Mintzlaff, RB Leipzig CEO: "In Jesse Marsch, we have been able to recruit our main head coach target and quickly fill the most important position in the sporting side of the club with a top coach."
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) April 29, 2021
However, it is not like Marsch is new to a pressure environment or the Red Bull setup. He knows what the demands are, how intense the competition will be. That last part is a key facet of the Bundesliga nowadays. Apart from Bayern, there is intense fighting over the remaining places. Nobody knows that better than Leipzig themselves, who were only a point ahead of Dortmund in the final standings.
It is no secret that Leipzig are one of the most passionately hated clubs in Germany. Due to their corporate ownership and parachuting ways to success, Marsch will have to handle this off-field cauldron well. Ultimately it will be their results that speak for themselves and there is nothing yet to suggest they cannot progress more.
🗣️ Head coach @jessemarsch on our opening friendly:
"It was a good start, but we definitely have some work ahead of us!"
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) July 17, 2021
The Champions League will also throw up a new kind of challenge and they are known to cause the traditional big guns all sorts of problems. If Leipzig continue their rampaging ways, there is little doubt that silverware beckons very soon.