RB Leipzig has to deal with many unresolved problems before the Bundesliga top game at Bayern. Injured and underperformed players, as well as bizarre visits to the hairdresser, make life difficult for coach Julian Nagelsmann.
Certain helplessness has spread at RB Leipzig. The almost untamable and surprisingly constant autumn champion has quickly become a team that fights not only with the opponent but also with himself. “It’s not a bad form. We haven’t had good results in the past three weeks and we have to work on it,” said Julian Nagelsmann after the 3-1 in the round of 16 at Eintracht Frankfurt.
One was his words, the other his expression, which seemed anything but conciliatory. The 32-year-old coach seemed petrified by his unusually short statements. No smile, no joy in the rhetoric that has always made him so entertaining in the past. It’s no secret that Nagelsmann doesn’t particularly like to lose. The current situation seems to hit the young coach sustainably. A four-point lead over FC Bayern after the first half of the Bundesliga has become a one-point deficit in the league after only three games.
Hallowed wake-up call from Nagelsmann
A win, a defeat, two extremely hard-fought draws, and the cup-out caused misgivings among the coach and throughout the club. Last but not least, the coach’s “summit cross” speech after the Bundesliga bankruptcy in Frankfurt (0-2) at the end of January, when he criticized his team for not showing full commitment in every training session, should be considered a wake-up call. In his speech, Nagelsmann publicly asked his team a clear question: “Are we reaching the summit cross or are we stopping shortly before?” This publicly presented warning from Nagelsmann had served no purpose.
And the hairdressing affair – some players had brought in a star hairdresser from London before the game against Borussia Mönchengladbach – is currently not shedding any good light on the Leipzig team. Former trainer and sports director Ralf Rangnick had shown himself “stunned” by the episode and described the behavior as “decadent”. “If you do that, it’s not far to the gold steak,” he said and had had a few one-on-one talks with his ex-players. Apparently without Nagelsmann’s knowledge.
Besides, other problems run through all parts of the team: The short-term sale of Diego Demme during the winter break to the SSC Napoli seems to have more serious consequences than everyone thought. The defensive midfield is no longer as solid as it was in the first half of the season. The long-term absence of Kevin Kampl (ankle) also had a negative impact on the duel. The 20-year-old Tyler Adams and the two-year-old Amadou Haidara have so far not been an equivalent substitute.
Problems in all parts of the team
The defense also suffers from the unstable defensive midfield. While the Leipzig team conceded an average of only 1.18 goals in the first half of the Bundesliga, there were already 1.67 goals conceded in the second half of the season. Due to the failures of Willi Orban (knee surgery) and Ibrahima Konaté (tear in the hip flexor), Dayot Upamecano, who also recently acted unusually prone to errors, is the last remaining RB central defender.
And the offensive is no longer as effective as it was in the first half of the season. In the first 17 games, the Saxons met an average of 2.82 times per game in the opposing stitches, in the first three matches of the second half, there were on average only 1.67 goals per game. National striker Timo Werner, who had already scored 25 goals in the first half of the season, has been without another goal since December. Marcel Sabitzer, with 12 goals the second-best marksman of the Leipzig team, is also looking for his form of the first half of the season.
Players from the second row have not yet offered themselves. The coach’s wake-up calls don’t work for RB players either (yet). The Leipziger is currently far from their achievement time. Next Sunday, the Saxons will now have to compete against Bayern Munich. Not exactly the best conditions for the Saxons. Perhaps this is why Nagelsmann, under the impression of the cup defeat against Frankfurt, is also in gallows humor before this controversial encounter: “In any case, we don’t go to Munich and sing: We go to Berlin. I can tell you that much.”