‘Out­siders’ Leipzig pile pres­sure on lead­ers Bay­ern

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

RB Leipzig are play­ing on their role as un­der­dogs to score some psy­cho­log­i­cal points ahead of today’s crunch Bun­desliga clash against Bay­ern Mu­nich.

“If we win, it would be a fairly big sur­prise. Any­thing other than a Bay­ern win would be a dis­ap­point­ment from a Mu­nich point of view,” Ralf Rang­nick, Leipzig’s sports di­rec­tor, told SID, an AFP sub­sidiary, yes­ter­day.

“For us, this is a bonus game, which we go into as out­siders. “We want to build on our good per­for­mances and per­haps get a scoop.” Bay­ern host Leipzig at the Al­lianz Arena with the sides neck and neck on 36 points with the cham­pi­ons top­ping the ta­ble on goal dif­fer­ence.

Leipzig, only founded in 2009, had a stel­lar 2016, gain­ing sec­ond di­vi­sion pro­mo­tion in May and go­ing a record 13matches un­beaten at the start of their first sea­son in Ger­many’s top flight.

“From a sport­ing per­spec­tive, it was a dream year,” said Rang­nick. “Ev­ery­one in Ger­many, and also us in Leipzig, are of course sur­prised by this fan­tas­tic first half of the sea­son.”

Leipzig’s suc­cess has come with a squad, with an av­er­age of 23, who were mostly un­heard of be­fore this sea­son. They have noth­ing to lose in the club’s first league match against star-stud­ded Bay­ern, which has 15 in­ter­na­tion­als in their squad and seven World Cup win­ners from Spain and Ger­many.

“Any team which is forced onto the de­fen­sive by Bay­ern don’t have a chance,” said Rang­nick.

“Our style of play is char­ac­terised by a high level of will­ing­ness to run, ag­gres­sion and pas­sion.

“But we have never played against a team whose in­di­vid­ual play­ers have such qual­ity.”

Bay­ern have a habit of sign­ing up top tal­ent from their ri­vals and club pres­i­dent Uli Hoe­ness has al­ready sug­gested Leipzig’s coach Ralph Hassen­huettl could be a fu­ture Mu­nich man­ager, to fol­low on from Spain’s Pep Guardi­ola and cur­rent in­cum­bent Carlo Ancelotti from Italy.

“If we should ever look for a (na­tive) Ger­man-speak­ing coach, he cer­tainly is one of the three can­di­dates to think about,” Bay­ern pres­i­dent Uli Hoe­ness told Bild.

“It’s go­ing to be a while be­fore Bay­ern get a Ger­man coach,” Aus­trian-born Hassen­huettl ob­served drily.

On av­er­age, Leipzig have run four kilo­me­tres (2.5miles) more than their op­po­nents per league game and Hassen­huettl in­tends to make Bay­ern run for their lives.

“We want to make sure that Bay­ern have to do some­thing and also that they have to cover 110 kilo­me­tres,” he said, re­fer­ring to the av­er­age dis­tance cov­ered in a Bun­desliga game.

Rang­nick ac­knowl­edges that while pres­tige and three points are at stake, the show­down will have lit­tle bear­ing on who lifts the ti­tle next May.

The 58-year-old has been here be­fore. He was Hof­fen­heim coach in 2008/09 when the club were top mid­way through their first Bun­desliga sea­son, only to even­tu­ally fin­ish sev­enth.

“If the ex­am­ple of Hof­fen­heim tells us some­thing, it’s that the ti­tle ‘Au­tumn cham­pi­ons’ (the name given to the ta­ble lead­ers in De­cem­ber) is worth prac­ti­cally noth­ing,” said Rang­nick.

He also doubts Leipzig will make any new sign­ings in the Jan­uary trans­fer win­dow. “There is no rea­son to change any­thing,” he said. “From our side, it is not planned that we’ll sign any new play­ers in the win­ter break.” — AFP

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