Who are RB Leipzig? Coral profile Bayern’s biggest Bundesliga rivals
Holly Thackeray | 30 November 2016
Who are RB leipzig?
Last weekend’s round of results in the Bundesliga saw newly-promoted RB Leipzig leapfrog champions Bayern Munich into first place, following their victory against Bayer Leverkusen. They’ve now extended that to six following their 4-1 thrashing of Freiburg.
Leipzig travelled to the Schwarzwald-Stadion to battle 2. Bundesliga winners Freiburg on Friday, and came away with all three points to ensure they stay at the table’s summit for another matchweek at least.
Many expected their lead to be temporary, but Carlo Ancelotti’s team can only at best go back to three points behind, if they beat Bayer on Saturday evening, after they lost to Borussia Dortmund the week before.
Ralph Hasenhuttl’s antiheroes have taken the Bundesliga by storm but, back to the question, who are they? If you’re not a regular viewer of German top-flight football, allow Coral football writers to fill you in about the new boys on the block…
What’s in a name?
You may be forgiven for thinking that the ‘RB’ in RB Leipzig stands for Red Bull, after the energy drink juggernauts that founded the club in 2009 and the aptly named Red Bull Arena where they play their football.
But no, the latest pretenders to Bayern’s throne are actually named RasenBallsport Leipzig e.V after an offshoot organisation. Either way, the powers that be simply went with RB Leipzig for promotion purposes and, if that’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for us. Cunning marketing ploy? Maybe.
Leipzig may have been founded by a huge international organisation, but they also had humble beginnings. Playing rights had to be purchased from local minnows SSV Markranstadt to join the Oberliga, Germany’s fifth tier of football.
Ambitious plans were put into motion for a rapid rise through the ranks, with the owners aiming to be in the Bundesliga within eight years. Well, as you can see when you cast your eyes over the German top-flight table, they’ve done much better than that.
In just seven seasons they’ve put themselves in position for a Champions League spot and, dare we say, a trophy. It’s still early days in the league but pundits are already comparing the sudden investment and quick-fire promotion through the leagues to Leicester City’s path to the Premier League and, eventually, surprise title triumph.
Kaiserslautern were the first German club to triumph straight after promotion to the top tier, way back in 1998, and Die Bullen will be seeking to replicate that success. Having gained promotion from Bundesliga 2 last term, but not crowned champions, who would have thought they’d scale these heights?
Leipzig the new Leicester?
Comparisons with Leicester do stop at savvy recruitment, sudden investment and being propelled quickly up the leagues though as the Foxes have been around since 1884. While, Die Bullen are by comparison a very young club indeed, seven years young in fact.
If their success continues, with such ambitious owners it might in a few seasons’ time be more prudent to liken Leipzig to Chelsea or Manchester City, though both started their ascent from bigger bases and far more history.
The Bulls have been tearing up the script since their inaugural playing season, winning promotion at the first time of asking in all of the NOFV-Oberliga Sud, Regionalliga Nord, Bundesliga 3 and Bundesliga 2 – quite a record.
Players are bound to be attracted to a fresh project with such effective management and astute investment, so Leipzig may not be just another one-season wonder bound to fall behind Bayern or be plundered by the Allianz Arena outfit for their top stars every summer.
You can’t find more of a contrast in German football than between this new, ambitious club and Bayern Munich’s weight of history. Though this season could well come too soon to truly take on the might of Munich, they are certainly a club to watch out for in the coming campaigns.
Key players in the rise of RB Leipzig
So we know all about the Red Bull angle now, but what about the playing and coaching staff that have helped propel Die Bullen to such swift success?
German midfielder Dominik Kaiser has managed a best-ever 98 appearances for Leipzig and, though he is in and out of the XI at the moment, he has led the Saxony side as skipper since 2015.
Having risen with the Bulls since 2012, he’s only the team’s fourth ever captain, but could be on the path to becoming a Leipzig legend if he can rally his team to trophy success. Centre back fixture Willi Orban, only 24 himself and a Kaiserslautern youth product, stands in as skipper when Kaiser in not in the team.
There appears to be a focus on youth and homegrown German talent in Die Bullen’s recruitment drive, though the club have also reportedly been scouting British stars with Ademola Lookman of Charlton Athletic the latest to be linked after Leipzig lured Scottish wing prospect Oliver Burke from Nottingham Forest in the summer.
Highly-rated hitman Timo Werner, still only 20, also joined from Stuttgart in the off-season and so far he’s been a success, with five goals and four assists in 11 league games to be Die Bullen’s joint top scorer in the Bundesliga.
Emil Forsberg has also starred with five strikes and as many assists, and the Swede has been dazzling with his displays down the flank.
While, 21-year-old German striker Davie Selke arrived in 2015 from Werder Bremen as the most expensive Bundesliga 2 player ever but, despite chipping in with a haul of 10 last term appears to have lost his tag as best young talent to Werner. Though he’s still managed two strikes in four chances, which ain’t half bad.
What about the boss?
Finally, as for the man in the dugout, Leipzig are on their seventh head coach since 2009, with Austrian Ralph Hasenhuttl now at the helm. The 49-year-old gained eight Austria caps as a player and began his coaching career with the youth at SpVgg Unterhaching.
Hasenhuttl’s first role as the main man saw the Austrian take over third division VfR Aalen, whom he guided to the Bundesliga 2 to much acclaim before a split after reported disagreements with the sporting director about investment – but he should have no such concerns at his latest gig!
But, Hasenhuttl’s real claim to coaching fame came next after taking over the reins of Ingolstadt, as he managed to take the team from the bottom of Bundesliga 2 to a 10th place finish before securing Bundesliga promotion the following term. After keeping Die Schanzer in the German top-flight it was mission accomplished, and the gaffer choose not to renew his contract, soon taking on a new challenge in Leipzig.
After going 12 games without a defeat, including eight victories and four draws, it is fair to say there are two new stars on the block in Hasenhuttl and Die Bullen. Unpopular at times with German fans they may be, but this isn’t the last you’ll hear of either, whatever happens in the Bundesliga title race this term.