It was always going to be challenging for RB Leipzig to improve on their second-place finish in their debut Bundesliga season, yet the manner in which Leipzig scraped a Europa League qualification spot created a sense of dissastification for a very talented, young side.
Frustration stemmed from their inability to gain any real momentum throughout the season, as Leipzig only ever managed to go four games unbeaten before suffering a loss. To go far in Leipzig’s first Champions League, especially given their difficult group, was always going to be a tough ask; they were able to enjoy a relatively successful Europa League campaign, beating seasoned European sides Napoli and Zenit Saint Petersburg on the way to the quarter-finals, before losing to Marseille. The European experience could aid the development of this exciting side.
Managerial background – Ralf Rangnick
Ralf Rangnick will return to the dugout for the 2018/19 season for Leipzig. He takes over from Ralph Hasenhüttl, who terminated his contract at the end of last season after two seasons with Die Roten Bullen.
Having been at the club in his capacity as Sporting Director since 2012, he is the ideal manager to oversee the season. He took over in similar fashion for the 2015/16 2. Bundesliga campaign, when Leipzig were unsuccessful in recruiting a permanent manager.
He was successful in his one season spell, securing promotion on the penultimate matchday. Fans can expect a similar style of counter attacking play from Leipzig, which saw them become one of the most exciting teams to watch over the last two seasons.
The biggest piece of business at Leipzig this summer was the departure of star midfielder Naby Keita, who left for Liverpool after a deal was agreed last year for his sale. This transfer represents a new challenge for the club, who as of yet have not had to deal with a star player being poached from a bigger club.
Leipzig have not yet brought in a direct replacement for Keita, having instead signed three promising youngsters, in keeping with the transfer policy of the club. They are 20-year-old versatile defender Nordi Mukiele from Montpeillier, 19-year-old striker Matheus Cunha from FC Sion and 20-year-old left back Marceloa Saracchi.
The two full backs may be in and around the first team squad following the departure of Bernardo to Brighton. Ademola Lookman is still a target for Leipzig after his loan stint last season.
The 2018/19 campaign could be considered a transitive season for the side, who already know that there will be a different manager in the dugout next season; Julian Nagelsmann has already been confirmed as the manager for Die Roten Bullen from 2019.
Anything less than qualifying for the Europa League would be subpar and could potentially hinder Nagelsmann with recruitment once he takes the reigns. In terms of the Europa League, another trip to the quarter finals would be considered successful, given the strength of some of the teams taking part in this year’s competition.
Strongest XI (4-3-3)
Gulasci – Mukiele, Upamecano, Orban, Saracchi – Kampl, Sabitzer, Forsberg – Bruma, Augustin, Werner.
By Oscar Bell.