Started from the bottom, now on top: The rise of Germany’s most hated club- RB Leipzig

first_imgAfter Leicester City’s title win last year and Champions League run in this one, people would have happily settled with the idea of the ‘greatest fairytale ever’ in football history. After earning promotion to the Premier League in 2014-15 by winning the Championship, they were perhaps ‘THE’ choice to go down, especially, after being at the bottom of the table for more than four and a half months. Nigel Pearson’s men however, scripted a fantastic comeback and put together a run of seven wins from their last nine fixtures to survive comfortably and the rest as they say is history.Well, for football fans however, history might be re-written soon enough. A small team set up in 2009 have been making the headlines off late in the not so followed competition of Germany – RB Leipzig.Dominated by Bayern Munich and Bayern Munich only followed by Borussia Dortmund briefly, the Bundesliga has been always overshadowed by the fancier Premier League and the mercurial duo of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in La Liga. But, 12 games into the season and with the winter break coming soon, Leipzig has reached the peak, surprising the football fraternity largely. (Also read: From predators to prey, Bayern Munich must turn corner)Reuters PhotoSet up seven years back,  energy drink company Red Bull walked in and bought the club’s licence, built the club’s character completely from the scratch – from the badge to the nickname and set out on an ambitious journey: reach the Bundesliga in eight years.advertisementThe largest city from the federal state of Saxony, Germany, did one better – they took seven.After seven years of hard work and little bit of help from Borussia Dortmund, a team they defeated 1-0 with a gutsy performance on Matchday 2, they are on top of the table – leading Bayern Munich by three points.THEY ARE HATEDComing from East Germany and being the only club in the top flight from that part of the country, it hasn’t helped Leipzig’s cause as such. The two parts are still very different from one another and the tension hasn’t eased out yet, thus, making life for the newbies really hard in Bundesliga in terms of popularity.Red Bull funded them largely and handed them a large transfer budget and in the process earned more haters as they were accused of overspending.  They were the Bundesliga’s biggest net spenders on 45 million pounds last summer, but only the third highest behind Borussia Dortmund (100 million pounds, net 1 million pounds) and Bayern Munich (63 million pounds, net 16 million pounds). Red Bull’s ownership was also a controversial move as a German club has to have 51% public ownership and Red Bull bypassed it, creating major issues for the team.  They have shoved everybody aside in the lower rungs as they made their way up after buying a small Leipzig club in 2009. They only have 17 club members and all of them are Red Bull employees. It takes 900 million pounds a year to be a member and that’s basically to prevent fans from signing up and having a say. A season ticket costs less than the membership fee but local fans don’t mind because Leipzig didn’t have a top-flight club for 22 years until this season.DESERVING LEADERSBut, despite all the hatred, the side from Saxon are record breakers. They are unbeaten for the last 12 games and no promoted side had ever gone 12 games unbeaten at the start of a Bundesliga season. They have managed to get nine wins and three draws, thus, earning 30 points in the process.What makes the team so impressive is their fantastic away record. While Leipzig managed to eke out four wins and a draw with their raucous crowd behind them at home, the team has a better record on the road as they picked up for 17 points out of 21 while travelling.YOUTH POWEREven though Red Bull invested on them heavily, the fact that they have one of the best academies in Germany is clear as they are very successful at the under-19 and under-17 levels.They have a talisman in Sweden’s  Emil Forsberg (25), who has managed two goals and three assists in his last two games. Accompanying him are a host of young and talented group of players like Naby Keita (21), Timo Werner (20), Youssuf Poulsen (22), Davie Selke (21) and the German left-back, Lukas Klostermann (21), who came off a good showing at the Olympics in Rio. Since then, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men are on an incredible journey of their own.The average age of Leipzig’s starting eleven this season has been just over 24 years, which really makes their phenomenal journey so far a little bit more special. The oldest player being goalkeeper Fabio Coltorti (35) followed by defender Marvin Compper (31), a good four years younger.advertisementThe youth game is also evident with the fact that Leipzig top the Bundesliga’s running charts as they have covered an average of 116.4 kilometres per game.Reuters PhotoBut, what acts as a major boost for Leipzig is that they also have a good back-up team in Austria and it came into play when Klostermann got injured and they immediately drafted in Brazilian Bernardo (21) from their neighbours. Most of their players have played for RB Salzburg in Austria and have a decent experience, which really comes in handy for Hasenhuttl.PLAYING STYLELeipzig has a high-octane style and it is based on pressing and fast transitional play, but they have also showed their ability to adapt to the situation. A solid back-line helps Hasenhuttl to carry on the pressing play to ease. They conceded just 32 times in 34 games last season in the Bundesliga 2 and currently they are joint-third best (with Eintracht Frankfurt), having conceded just ten times in 12 outings. Not only that, they have also scored seven times in the final 15 minutes, only Borussia Dortmund and FSV Mainz 05 have managed to scored more goals in the same period.CAN THEY DO ONE BETTER THAN LEICESTER?Well, that’s a long shot really and with 25 more games to go, Bayern can sail away in a whisker. But, then again, didn’t Leicester start off with their odds on winning the Premier League at 5000/1? Leipzig defeated Dortmund on MatchDay 2 and overcame another strong team in Bayer Leverkusen 3-2  at the BayArena last week and has shown consistently that they can perform on the big stage.There was a point when Leicester went into Christmas on top and people said now that the busy schedule has come, they will falter but the Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Claudio Ranieri bandwagon only got stronger. Much like the current English champions, Leipzig doesn’t have European glory to chase and that gives them a huge advantage over their title rivals Bayern and Dortmund – who had already committed the mistake of taking them lightly once.With Bayern Munich hosting Leipzig on December 21, just before the winter break, Hasenhuttl’s men have a daunting task ahead in going to 2017 as the leaders and continue their magical journey but then again, haven’t we all been proven wrong a few months back itself?last_img read more