Preview: FC Bayern – RB Leipzig
Hello Matthias, please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us how you got into RB Leipzig. What is so special about the club?
Hi, I’m Matthias and 43 years old. I have a blog called rotebrauseblogger.de. In 2009, when I came to Leipzig, I had no kind of affection towards football clubs whatsoever. I wanted to experience live action with a strong perspective in the future. All that was given due to the investor who guaranteed structure. At first, I only visited a few matches at our home ground. One year later all of them and even some encounters away from Leipzig. From 2012 on I am there for almost all games of the season. To summarize the process: Tried, liked, stayed!
How do you cope with all those negative statements towards RB? And more importantly how do you argue against?
That’s not easy to state briefly. There are way too many arguments regarding different topics like internal structure, commerce, tradition, the connection to Salzburg and much more. Each topic has its own debates, which are sometimes likely to end up in general discussions about competition, clubs and sociality around them.
What do you think about general statements like “lack of tradition” or comments regarding the club’s structure?
I basically have no problem with the current structure. I was much more interested into the idea. From my perspective, the competitiveness in Germany is not great anymore. RB possibly is a result of the process up until now. I do get arguments like “plastic club”, “there are no feelings”, or regarding the town Leipzig, that RB took over and supressed local competitors.
Let’s talk about football. Why is Leipzig more successful than all the other competitors?
I really don’t know. It’s obvious that Ralph Hasenhüttl improved the team massively in comparison to the start of season. Now we have a clear structure in our gameplay and all players know how to act in specific situations. As a result the system does not demand too much from our players, but is still challenging for the opponents. He brought all the intensity from Ingolstadt to Leipzig and, in combination with higher individual quality, we see a more rational, well working team. I don’t know why so many teams struggle against us, but I can assure that sometimes opponents lack aggressiveness, which was a challenge for RB in the second division.
Which teams do you see as your main competitors?
Generally I thought we would compete for places in between eight and twelve. Now with three points clear to third place in the table you cannot deny competing for the Champions League qualification.
To reach the level of FC Bayern is going be a long way to go. What are the long-term goals of RB Leipzig?
The target was to play European football within three years. Internally I guess the club planned to reach the international stage in their second Bundesliga season. In addition to that it will be necessary to develop financially (TV money, sponsors, stadium) to stabilize the clubs base beyond the financial power of Red Bull and to play regular European football. If we do well, we can be one of the teams who may profit from weak phases of Bayern Munich. But for me getting on eye level with Bayern is absurd. I think a constant development towards the level of Borussia Dortmund is a more realistic approach.
Who has more influence on the way the team plays? Rangnick or Hasenhüttl?
The current success can mainly be credited to Hasenhüttl. He managed to make our pressing more effective with less focus on hard-running. Rangnick is the glue, which keeps the club together. He has everything under control and can be the perfect advisor in many ways. Both are currently in their perfect position and benefit of each other. It is hard to imagine a better constellation right now. It will be interesting to see how they will react in bad phases of the season. If Rangnick’s closeness to the team is still a positive factor or not, I don’t know.
The main concept is to counter-attack rapidly, but the team is also quite strong in possession. Are there any weak points in the team and is there some room for improvements?
Considering the games against Augsburg and Bremen you are right. We found good solutions. To name weak points is currently quite hard for me. Regarding our gameplay adjustments are always possible and the team is quite flexible. The only thing I can think of is an aggressive approach by our opponents like we saw in Ingolstadt. The individual quality is not as good as in Munich to outplay them like Bayern does, thus fighting becomes more important in those games.
How good is the squad terms of depth?
Generally it is quite unbalanced, especially in defence and because of many injuries. Tactics are one instrument to make up for that. But on the long run we need more depth within the squad to avoid compromises regarding the line-up. Like Ilsanker who played as a full-back or centre-back. We have 17 outfield players overall and three of them are injured (Compper, Klostermann, Papadoupulus). If Keita and Halstenberg are missing out on Wednesday as well, it will be quite hard in Munich.
What kind of approach are you expecting and where do you see weak spots in Bayern’s gameplay so far?
The approach might be the same like in Dortmund where we tried to destroy the build-up play by covering the central midfielders. Our full-backs need to work hard as well to prevent fast attacks on the wings. The team will press aggressively just after the half-way line but also needs to maintain compactness. Then you need some luck in duels. Bayern is able to outplay opponents with long passes as well, which will be the biggest challenge in my opinion. Their problems are in defence after losing possession. Alonso and Martinez were not as convincing regarding that matter for the past few games. That could be exciting to see how they will act against Poulsen, Werner and even Keita, if he is able to play.
With a win Leipzig becomes Herbstmeister in their first Bundesliga season. Do you see a chance to fight for the title?
I think it depends on how Bayern is playing over the rest of the season. The team has surprised me so many times that I stopped thinking about the “regression to the Bundesliga mean”. You will need around 80 points to compete for the title, which is by any means unrealistic for Leipzig. Someone of the champion’s teams of Kaiserslautern in 1998 said that you need to win the games against Bayern to make it possible. So… if Bayern loses on Wednesday things might become much more interesting for the second leg of the season.
Predict the result for us?
Realistically it will be a 2-1 win for Bayern like in Hoffenheim’s first Bundesliga season. But I wish for a 3-1 win of RB.
If you could choose one Bayern player to play for your team… who would it be and why?
Are you serious?. Of course I would choose Joshua Kimmich. I have the feeling he still somehow belongs to Leipzig. I will tell my grandchildren about his first appearance ever against Heidenheim. He played like the natural leader of the team, in an away game that was quite important at this point.