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Why Leipzig are a nightmare for Bayern

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 370

Pin Leipzig go up against Bayern Munich in a Bundesliga crunch clash. Goal
Leipzig go up against Bayern Munich in a Bundesliga crunch clash. Goal

Why Leipzig are a nightmare for Bayern

BeSoccer by BeSoccer @besoccer_com - 0 370

The German record champions are down on their usual standards, despite being top of the league, but the team in second place could well overhaul them on Wednesday.

If any team other than Bayern Munich are going to win the Bundesliga this season, then two things need to happen. One, Bayern need to have a bad season by their own standards and two, that other contending team need to have an exceptional one. 

It tells you plenty about Bayern’s stupendously high standards that they are top of the league after 15 matches despite being some way down on their usual potency. It tells you plenty about the disruption that RB Leipzig have caused this season that they sit next to Bayern at the top – level on points and behind only on goal difference.

The two elements necessary for an interloper to win the league are very much in play. Bayern have 36 points. They have not had so few at this stage of a season since 2011-12 – co-incidentally the last time they failed to win the league.

The last time a team in second place behind Bayern after 15 matches had won so many points was in 2013-14 when Bayer Leverkusen had 37 on the board.

It puts into perspective Bayern’s dominance of the landscape there that they are regarded as being in a bit of a slump while Leipzig are enjoying their best-ever season and both are level on points. It’s all to do with perspective. Bayern are currently doing just enough to hold Leipzig at bay but all the indications are that they are struggling to replicate the consistency of seasons gone by.

Their numbers are way down on last season in almost every respect. They have won fewer matches and drawn more. They have scored fewer goals and have conceded more. They have completed fewer passes, taken fewer shots and given up more this season compared to last. Thomas Muller spoke earlier in the season about the “mentality” at Bayern not being right.

“We have a lot of talks,” the World Cup winner told Goal. “But you have to understand we cannot discuss those details public – otherwise we would kill each other in front of the cameras.

“But we can talk about the mentality, that’s something everybody understands and says: Yes, the mentality wasn’t good. That’s why you almost always hear the same sentences over and over again in times of a crisis, what means the team is working and solves their problems together.”

There remains a lack of fluency, identity and control in Bayern’s game. They have appeared too slow, too predictable at times this season and have relied on decisive individual actions – such as Douglas Costa’s screamer against Darmstadt at the weekend – to get them out of jail.

It’s only natural that they would endure a drop-off following the departure of Pep Guardiola as the methods of Carlo Ancelotti were always going to take a while to fully implement. Bayern, however, could not have handpicked a worse rival during this transitional season than Leipzig.

They are a hard-running, high-pressing monster whose collective strength more than makes up for any lack of “star” name. Expertly drilled by coach Ralph Hasenhuttl, Leipzig have been compared favourably to Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund for their bravery and the speed with which they seek to find a shot on goal after taking over possession.

“Up to now they have been doing very well, nobody expected that especially as a promoted team,” Arjen Robben told Goal this week.

“That's a huge compliment, especially for the coach. You can already see his influence. Last season he did well with Ingolstadt and now you see his influence again. That's nice to see.”

Leipzig are a fearless, energetic young team who are laying waste to names and reputations in a manner not to dissimilar to Hoffenheim when Ralf Rangnick first brought that upstart village club to the Bundesliga in 2008.

It’s been only seven years since Red Bull acquired the playing license of fifth-tier SV Markranstadt. Since then, RB have endured opposition fans' protests, have had stones pelted at their bus and - against Dynamo Dresden earlier in this season’s DFB-Pokal - even had a bloodied, severed bull’s head tossed onto their pitch.

German football clubs are fiercely protective of their traditions and most fans see RB Leipzig and their token 17 members as a slap in the face to all that makes German football unique. RB are viewed as a perversion of the 50+1 ownership model which hands majority control of a club’s decisions to its members – usually fans.

It was an ugly, hostile start to life in German football for Dietrich Mateschitz – the billionaire fizzy drinks baron. That, however, has not stopped RB’s seemingly unstoppable rise on the field.

A cannily-assembled side have simply had simply too much power and class for most of the Bundesliga so far. Leipzig have only lost once – a shock against lowly Ingolstadt recently – while amassing 36 points in the process including impressive wins against Dortmund, Leverkusen and Schalke.

Hasenhuttl, meanwhile, has even been spoken up as a potential Bayern coach in waiting.  

Their recruitment strategy is overseen by Rangnick and they are signing the cream of Europe’s young talents between the ages of 18 and 24. Timo Werner, prised from Stuttgart, is leading the way with midfielder Naby Keita and Scotland international Oliver Burke also impressing. Leipzig, with their ultra-modern training facilities and first-rate academy, are winning over the majority of locals in a region starved of top-flight football for decades.

Rangnick has previously stated that Leipzig would be the closest German team to Bayern in the coming years but it looks to be coming to pass rapidly. They have an outside chance of going to the winter break top of the league. To do so they must beat Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern at the Allianz Arena on Wednesday night.

RB Leipzig are inverting the order in German football and few would back against them ending their hugely impressive 2016 top of the lot. 

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