OPINION | German football may be commercialising, but don’t blame RB Leipzig

I begin this article with one of the best speeches ever written in one of the best plays since ancient times. However, it’s been slightly changed and even though I am very certain of the fact that Shakespeare himself would shrug at the mere mention of my alteration of his masterpiece, I ask you to lend me your minds and eyes.

“Friends, Germans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

I come to bury traditional values, not to praise them.

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones;

So let it be with traditionalism. The noble Leipzig

hath told you traditionalism was ambitious:

If it were so, it was a grievous fault,

And grievously hath traditionalism answer’d it.

Here, under leave of Leipzig and the rest–

For Leipzig is an honourable act;

So are they all, all honourable acts–

Come I to speak in traditionalism’s funeral.

It was my baby, lovely and just to me:

But Leipzig says it was ambitious;

And Leipzig is an honourable act.

He hath brought many titles home to Germany

Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:

Did this in traditionalism seem ambitious?

When that the poor have cried, traditionalism hath wept:

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:

Yet Leipzig says it was ambitious;

And Leipzig is an honourable act.

You all did see that on Allianz

I thrice presented him a proper sensation,

Which it did thrice refuse: was this ambition?

Yet Leipzig says he was ambitious;

And, sure, it is an honourable act.

I speak not to disprove what Leipzig spoke,

But here I am to speak what I do know.

You all did love it once, not without cause:

What cause withholds you then, to mourn for it?

O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,

And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;

My heart is in the coffin there with traditionalism,

And I must pause till it come back to me.”

Much like Mark Anthony (”Marcus Antonius” to me, never got why the Latin names are changed in English), mourns Julius Gaius Caesar, Germany now mourns traditionalism and all the success it brought the country. And much like Brutus, the man who literally stabbed Julius Caesar in the back, Leipzig are responsible for the former perishing. Leipzig, or the concept, the bare idea of a fully commercialised team, has always been the main threat to Germany’s traditional values regarding football, but now they are, much like the beloved Julius Gaius, dead and buried.

Leipzig are good. It’s a great football team and a class act on and off the pitch. The players and the manager as well as the fans should not be blamed for the killing of German traditionalism. Au contraire, ma cherie, they should be lauded and applauded for the way they’ve played under the circumstances. It can’t be easy to focus on your football when you’re hated wherever you go.

They have been one of the greatest teams to watch in Bundesliga. They play extremely attractive attacking football and their midfield and atttack are among the greatest in the league. One could even argue that their midfield is slightly better than Bayern’s, when they’re all fit. Naby Keita, Kevin Kampl, Diego Demme, Konrad Laimer, Emil Forsberg, Marcel Sabitzer & Bruma, it’s thrilling thing to even write about, let alone watch. It’s intense, attractive and it might be the reincarnation of Jürgen Klopp’s Vollgasfussball, the very thing Thomas Tuchel barely mismanaged.

Moreover, to me, a swede, Leipzig have brought some needed wind to stalling German sails and their inclusion has made the league even more interesting (as if that was possible…). They’ve brought a new level of intrigue and even though one might consider a polarised Germany to be bad thing, I do think it just makes the league much more competitive and interesting, due to the simple fact that there’s so much more heat nowadays. People really hate Leipzig, but they manage. As long as people aren’t throwing rocks or other hard stuff at the Leipzig civilians, I can’t find a single reason to why they should not be seen as a nice addition to the league we already love.

However, people do have lots of problems with them and I can definitely understand that. It’s not easy to get used to new concepts and it’s very human to look at something new and say “Nah, we’re good as it were!”. But, there’s this saying, I think you’ve heard it. Errare Humanum Est.

While I can accept people having problems with RasenBallsport Leipzig, I can’t fathom the level of naivety that surrounds the bunch of people hating the club. It seems, and this is just an observation, like just because RB Leipzig aren’t run as German teams are traditionally supposed to, they can’t compete for titles. It seems like just because they are an ”abomination” and a danger to the sport, their midfield can’t be applauded and celebrated. Do not let your hate make you naive, do not let the fact that they’re untraditional affect the way you look at their football, because then you’ll miss one of the most entertaining teams we’ve seen in Bundesliga since Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund.

”If you love German football, you hate Leipzig,” is a thesis I’ve heard over the past few years. While I agree to an extent, I would like to alter that saying, much like I altered Shakespeare’s speech. ”If you love German football, you don’t hate Leipzig,” because they, on the pitch, epitomise everything we love about German football. Gegenpress, speed and bags and bags of great goals.

When Julius Caesar (or as I like to call him, ”The Real JC”) died, the Roman Empire found itself divided by two poles. Mark Anthony on one side and Brutus and Cassius on the other. Cassius and Brutus were victorious for quite some time, but then a man called Octavian stepped in and decided the fight once and for all by seizing power of the empire. He then became one of the most loved emperors of all time and has been mentioned as inspiration for Machiavelli as well as Nietzsche.

Now, how does this relate to German football and the state of the very same? Well, it doesn’t really. However, this could work as a prophecy of things to come. There is a clear power struggle between the more traditional sides in Bundesliga (Mark Anthony) and the killers of the traditional values (Cassius and Brutus) and one could assume that this struggle will continue to develop until a team emerges with enough clarity and wisdom to find the right path for German football, much like Octavian. Basically, Bundesliga is waiting for an Octavian to come around, if Leipzig aren’t the answer.

By Axel Falk.


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