March 23, 2017

RB Leipzig Suffers First Home Defeat: What Went Wrong?

The Bundesliga table was turned on its head at the weekend with teams at the bottom causing upsets against teams at the top. Dortmund went down to Darmstadt, while surprise package RB Leipzig suffered a shock first home defeat of the season at the hands of HSV.

Unbeaten at the Red Bull Arena since April 2016, the arrival of a struggling Hamburg on Saturday must have seemed like another routine three-pointer for Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side, but a shock 3-0 defeat has dented their ambitions at the top of the table- especially with Bayern snatching a late victory at Ingolstadt.

So what went wrong for die Büllen as they fell yet further Bayern Munich at the top of the table?

Set-piece Weakness

The damage was really done for the home side in the first half with two near identical goals. After withstanding some good early pressure from the hosts in the opening quarter of an hour, Hamburg hit Leipzig with the sucker punch of two goals in quick succession.

Two Nicolai Müller corners delivered from the right led to the goals. First former player Kyriakos Papadopoulos powered home a header on 18 minutes before Brazilian Walace repeated the feat six minutes later. To concede once from a set-piece is disappointing. To fall into the same trap twice in succession is inexcusable.

Possession and Chances Wasted

It’s not how long you have the ball, but what you do with it. With nearly 68% ball possession and 15 attempts on goal, you would have expected Leipzig to have got more from the game. However with none of those attempts hitting the target, it was a bad day at the office for the RB attackers. Timo Werner was the chief culprit, going 0 for 4, including two good half-chances early.

Pass completion was right at their average at 73.6%, but the HSV defence blocked six attempts and forced Leipzig to try eight efforts from outside the penalty area.

Going in 2-0 down at half-time, while a blow, was not insurmountable, but RB huffed and puffed all afternoon without unduly testing HSV keeper Rene Adler. A 0% conversion rate is never going to win you football matches and Leipzig are going to have to improve their conversion rate if they are to keep up the chase on Bayern at the top of the table.

Standards Luck

Of course conceding two goals within minutes of each other on set pieces is very much unlike Leipzig, as the following stats from Instat show. They’ve actually only conceded two goals in 19 matches prior to this one, which is the third best ranking in the Bundesliga!

Also, the set piece conversion rate of opponents was at 4.9% per Footyintheclouds, well below the league average of 6.6%. On the flip side, RBL have converted at 7.6% v.s the 6.6% average and have scored ten goals per Instat.

(Instat takes penalties into account, while Footyintheclouds not).

So it appears that Lady Luck is casting some strange glances in the direction of Leipzig, though it would be overly simplistic (and disrespectful to Hamburg) to let it boil down to just that.

Debut to Forget

Dayot Upamecano’s full Bundesliga debut lasted just over half an hour before he was replaced with Danish forward Yussuf Poulsen. While not the only weak link for HSV’s two goals (captain Willi Orban will also need to ask himself some questions), the French defender will be keen to move on and forget his first full appearance in the Bundesliga. Orban even managed to receive a needless yellow card (and a subsequent ban) for throwing the Hamburg physio’s medical bag off the pitch!

To make matters worse, the tactical move from trainer Hasenhüttl failed to pay dividends with Poulsen lasting a little over ten minutes himself before having to go off injured.

A bad day at the office then for RB Leipzig.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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