Fresh off the back of a 6-1 demolition of feeble strugglers Schalke, RB Leipzig have positioned themselves handsomely at the inception of the season’s post-World Cup restart with the Saxony-based outfit now sitting just four points behind a faltering Bayern. Whilst Eintracht Frankfurt, Union Berlin, and Freiburg all remarkably remain in the mix, Bayern have drawn their two matches of 2023 so far, thus opening up a potential title foray into a city that isn’t called Munich.
RB Leipzig are unquestionably one of the form teams in the division, having only dropped points in a 1-1 draw versus Bayern in their last six league outings. Tuesday evening’s obliteration of relegation candidates Schalke symbolises a team full of confidence, and whilst it’s easy to point at Die Königsblauen’s struggles as to why Leipzig found things so facile, Die Roten Bullen have not lost at all since mid-September, having recorded impressive victories since then against the likes of Real Madrid, Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, and Freiburg.
Head coach Marco Rose has built an incredibly malleable squad, having brought a seemingly impregnable air of tactical flexibility to the side. Fluctuating between 3-4-3 and 4-2-2-2 systems, Leipzig are well-prepared for whoever they face, and the effectiveness of each system suggests that the club possesses all the necessary weapons in their arsenal for a genuine title push. The charge is being led by none other than last year’s Bundesliga Player of the Season Christopher Nkunku, with the Frenchman currently perching atop the individual goal scoring charts with 12 goals. Rose has also got Andre Silva and Timo Werner firing again, whilst Benjamin Henrich’s goal on Tuesday was the eighth time this season a Leipzig defender recorded on the score sheet; a notable league high.
Leipzig are not quite at the summit when it comes to goals conceded, however young Croatian Joško Gvardiol and veteran Hungarian Willi Orbán ensure reliable defensive solidity, nonetheless. Only three teams have conceded fewer goals than Leipzig in this season’s Bundesliga, implying that their offensive-defensive balance is certainly sufficient for a dignified title charge.
No other team has won more Bundesliga points this season in the second half of matches than RB Leipzig. If this second half match success can be translated into second half of the season success, then the title may well be heading to eastern Germany.
GGFN | James Westmacott