RB Leipzig currently sit joint on points with Bayern Munich at the summit of the German top flight, having played their first ever ten Bundesliga games.
The hate and disdain aimed at RBL by fans has been raucous at times with many displaying their disgust, at this ‘corporate club’ who are just here to sell a ‘product’ and ‘lifestyle’ rather than football, in the most palpable ways. Fans of opposing clubs have paraded banners slandering the club since their inception in 2009 and the debate continues to resonate among German football’s top brass.
Returning to on field matters, they have conceded seven goals, only one more than Bayern this season, thanks to a defensive system farmed in the agricultural fields of the German second division, marshalled by the impressive veteran Marvin Compper (there’s an adjective and noun combo that Bundesliga fans never thought would be used together in the same sentence) and Willi Orban.
However, it is their impressive tally of 20 goals in their inaugural Bundesliga season that has turned heads throughout Europe. The tall, rangy Danish forward Yussuf Poulsen has led the line providing the base to allow the dynamic trio of Emil Forsberg, Marcel Sabitzer and former Nottingham Forest man Oliver Burke to garner the plaudits.
Forsberg in particular has been a revelation but it is his scarily telepathic on-field connection with a seasoned Bundesliga veteran that has the fans stirring.
Timo Werner, still only 20 years old is fast becoming the star of this unlikeliest show. For so long a footballing wasteland, East Germany now has a footballing presence that has the capabilities, and crucially the financial backing, to outlast many of their deep-seated traditional Western counterparts with Werner at the forefront.
The forward was relegated to the 2. Bundesliga with Stuttgart after last season and it must have been difficult to leave his boyhood club for another first-division club in the summer. Nonetheless when the opportunity came to make an instant return with Leipzig it was easy to predict this exciting talent would build on his fledgling reputation.
When replacing goal scorer Oliver Burke in Leipzig’s 1-1 draw with FC Köln in September, Werner became the youngest player to reach 100 Bundesliga appearances, surpassing ‘wunderkind’ Julian Draxler.
It may be a bit harsh to say that Draxler hasn’t fulfilled his potential yet – he is of course an established German international, but with the form of his current club Wolfsburg being so inconsistent, you’d imagine the majority of people would rather be in Werner’s position right now with the world at his mesmeric feet.
The youngster was the complete contradiction to his almost robotic and politically correct post-match interview as he led his side to a 3-1 victory over plucky Mainz 05 last weekend.
His directness and pace ran the Mainz defenders ragged as he netted two and assisted the other for his creative sidekick Forsberg (sorry Marco and Pierre-Emerick, Batman and Robin may have some worthy challengers after all).
This progressive club led by the enterprising Austrian manager Ralph Hasenhüttl and forward-thinking Ralf Rangnick seem like the perfect fit for the enigmatic yet unequivocal talents of Werner.
Last weekend took RB’s record signing to five goals in 10 appearances this campaign with two assists to his name after scoring only 13 goals in 95 league matches with Stuttgart over three seasons. His finishing was subpar when with the Swabians — now he will be hoping to at least treble this tally if his club are to maintain a challenge near the top of the division.
Whether RB can continue this extraordinary form for the remainder of the season and Werner, Forsberg, Burke and co. replicate their scintillating attacking play is a story still to be told.
But it will come as no surprise when we finally here Tony Britten’s immortal Champions League anthem ringing out, not just around the Red Bull Arena but as an iconic battle-cry reverberating across the whole of Europe.
Photo from RBL Facebook page