RB Leipzig – The first five seasons

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RasenBallsport Leipzig – The first five seasons

A Brief Club History

RasenBallsport Leipzig e. V., commonly known as RB Leipzig, is a German association football club based in Leipzig, Saxony. The club is supported by energy drink-maker Red Bull who purchased the license of fifth division side SSV Markranstädt with the intention of advancing the re-modeled club to the top-flight Bundesliga within ten years. RB Leipzig’s stadium is the Red Bull Arena. In their inaugural season, RB dominated the NOFV-Oberliga Süd (fifth division) in 2009–10 and as a result were promoted as champions to the Regionalliga Nord (fourth division) for the 2010–2011 season. In the 2012-13 campaign, RB won that league without conceding a defeat and was promoted to the 3. Liga (third division). And this is where I begin my career…

I’ll be honest here. Don’t expect novels on each season. This blog post is more about bringing you guys up to speed with where I am now, and briefly about how we got there.

My Aims

Promotion to the Bundesliga within 4 seasons

All-German squad within 5 seasons

Win Bundesliga within 10 seasons

Win DFB-Pokal within 10 seasons

Win a European Cup within 10 seasons

Win World Cup with Germany using a squad entirely comprised of RB Leipzig players (no time limit)

Win World Cup with Germany using a squad entirely comprised of RB Leipzig ACADEMY players (no time limit)

Tactics

From the start, I knew how I wanted us to play. 4-3-3, pressing, possession based football. To achieve that, I set the team up thus:

It works, we have the greater share of possession in around 90% of games. The player roles generally stay the same, but individual player instructions can be changed to suit a particular player.

Season One – 2013/14: 3.Liga

The plan for the first season was automatic promotion. The board would settle for mid-table, but I wanted and expected more. I inherited a strong squad which only needed minor additions, and no money was spent. We won the league comfortably by nine points, and only losing one game. We lost 1-0 to Hannover in the DFB-Pokal second round.

Season Two – 2014/15: 2.Bundesliga

Automatic promotion was the aim. and for a long time, it looked like it’d be easy. Then, a couple of injuries, form crashed somewhat and we only picked up a point from our final three games, which dropped us into the play-off spot. We’d have to play the team third from bottom in the Bundesliga to see whether we were going up or not. We played Hertha BSC, who had home advantage in the first leg being the higher ranked team. We drew 3-3, which meant we only needed a draw to go up… And that’s exactly what we got – a 2-2 draw, which sent us up on away goals! We lost 5-3 aet to Bayern in the DFB-Pokal semi-final.

Season Three – 2015/16: Bundesliga

Not much was expected from anyone this season, including myself. Anything more than survival was a bonus. We started predictably for a newly promoted club, only taking 5 points from our opening five games, but we played very well after that, netting eleven wins and two draws from fourteen games. We were third, and right behind Dortmund. Then it happened. It all went to s**t. Only four wins and two draws in fifteen games. For a season with no expectation, to fly so high for so long then crash, it was a disappointment, even though it should still have been a celebration. We finished 5th, which earned us a place in the Europa League. We lost 4-2 to Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal third round.

Season Four – 2016/17: Bundesliga

I wanted us to step it up this season, to put some pressure on the big two – Dortmund and Bayern. We finished third, four points behind Dortmund in second, but eighteen behind winners Bayern. In the Europa League, we came though our qualifying round tie comfortably, beating Maritimo 5-1 on aggregate. Our group consisted of Ajax, Lyon, Slovan Liberec and us. Not many expected us to make it out, but after four games, everyone was tied on six points! It was the tightest I’d ever seen a group, but in the end it was Ajax and us who proceeded. We drew Inter, and we nicked a 1-0 win at home, and held out at the San Siro for a 2-2 draw, and so we were through to face Viktoria Plzen. I expected an easy ride. Oops. A 1-1 away draw seeded some doubts, but they were killed after a 2-0 home win. We had Leverkusen in the quarter-final, a team we knew we could beat, having done so in the league. A 1-0 win at home preceeded a 2-2 away draw, and we were up against Arsenal in the semi-final. A 1-1 draw at home gave us some hope, though the advantage was with them. A 5-0 masterclass by Arsenal saw us going back to the fatherland ambivalent. Proud we’d got this far, somewhat embarrassed by the spanking we’d just received.

Season Five – 2017/18: Bundesliga

This season it was time to really try to challenge for the title. And challenge we did. Sort of. Bayern ran off with the trophy by nine points, and third placed Hannover were only a point behind us. That we finished second was more that Dortmund were crap this season rather than us being fantastic. We managed our first wins over both ‘top two’ clubs, a 1-0 win away to Dortmund, and a 3-2 win at home against Bayern. Our first season in the Champions League saw us enter in the group stage, against Atlético, Liverpool and Olympiakos. ‘Third is the best you can hope for’ came the cries on Twitter. Seems the squad had other ideas – we finished second with a very comfortable seven point gap over Atlético. We drew PSG in the knockout round, and we managed a credible 2-2 draw at home. Then came the away leg. If I thought the 5-0 loss to Arsenal was bad, this was downright disgusting… 7-1. The tragedy is that we wasn’t outplayed, we actually dominated possession and had a fair amounts of shots, we were just massively outgunned by superior finishing. We won the DFB-Pokal!

The Current Squad

This is the provisional starting 11 for 2018/19:

(An asterisk denotes an academy player)

Stefano Monopoli – Signed for £4m from Nurnburg in 2015/16. Mr Reliable, and a Model Professional.

Robert Stohr – Academy player, signed in 2014/15.

Roland Grundmann – Signed for £1m from Bayern Munich in 2016/17. Strong centre back with lots of potential.

Gunter Rangnick – Academy player, signed in 2015/16. Will be his début season.

Niko Gießelmann – Signed for £2.5m from Frankfurt in 2016/17. Solid full back.

Richard Addae – Academy player, signed in 2013/14. Never expected much when I first saw him, but has developed well.

Steffen Mertesacker – Academy player, signed in 2016/17. Billed as ‘one of the best of his generation’. Definitely a future captain with that Leadership attribute.

Enver Hamzic – Signed for £1.2m from Erfurt in 2014/15. An assist machine!

Serge Gnabry – Signed for £15.5m from Real Madrid in 2017/18. Had a very good début season. Surprised Real Madrid sold him, though he had only just recovered from a leg break.

Andreas Behrendt – Academy player, signed in 2014/15. Our star player. Scored and assisted more goals than anyone else last season.

Kai Schaider – Academy player, signed in 2014/15. Bundles of potential, can’t wait to see him start filling his boots after scoring 22 in his début season.

Notable others:

Alexander Merkel – Signed for £1.8m from Udinese in 2016/17. This season will rotate with Mertesacker.

Bjorn Schwab – Academy player, signed in 2014/15. Backup.

Thomas Frey – Signed for £1.5m from Nurnburg in 2016/17. Very talented player, but behind Hamzic in the pecking order.

Ingmar Pfeiffer – Signed for £925k from Karlsruhe in 2016/17. Would probably start in most Bundesliga squads, but I’m giving priority to academy player Rangnick.

Mathias Konigs – Academy player, signed in 2017/18. One for the future.

Sebastian Wolf – Academy player, signed in 2015/16. Début season, will play second fiddle to Gnabry for now.

And so that is where we are. Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions or want any other info, comment on here or grab me on twitter: @iTacticalGenius

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