RB Leipzig’s rise to the Champions League has been nothing short of explosive and entertaining along the way.
Having only been founded officially in 2009, RasenBallSport (NOT Red Bull) Leipzig have had quite the rise. Red Bull drinks company purchased a stake in then 5th tier German side SSV Markranstädt with the sole intention of making them a top flight Bundelisga club within 8 years.
An ambitious project but, one that is way ahead of schedule. RB Leipzig last year gained a whole host of new followers due to not only their meteoric rise but, due to their exciting and fast paced playing style, all while doing it with a very low average aged squad.
In their first year at the top flight, they finished 2nd in the Bundesliga, for a while coming up to January, they were giving Bayern a huge scare. Their main objective for the first year back in Bundesliga being to solidify their position. To finish 2nd was remarkable.
Coming in to this years Champions League for the first time, there were a few things to make sure of before they could enter the competition, as Red Bull own Salzburg who are also in the Champions League, Leipzig needed clearance that both could play in the same competition which, under UEFA ruling is frowned upon, RB Leipzig got the clearance to go ahead.
Drawn in Pot 4, Leipzig were by far the most dangerous team in that pot and definitely the team to avoid. With how some of the groups turned out, Leipzig will be happy with their outcome, drawing Monaco, Porto and Besiktas.
That group is very attainable to go through in, second should be the aim in that group but, with how Ralph Hasenhüttl (The RB Leipzig manager) has them playing, I would definitely tip them to be the favourites for that group, depending on the future of Mbappe and Fabinho of Monaco that still aren’t resolved yet.
Leipzig look to have resisted huge offers, in around €80m for Naby Keita from Liverpool which shows their rise in such a short space of time, in rejecting that offer, they have a collection of terrific youngsters that now also have a year experience in a very tough Bundesliga.
Werner, Keita, Forsberg are just three out of a raft of great talent that I feel will thrive under the lights of the Champions League.
Players to watch out for in this group across all teams, for Monaco I would look out for Lemar, often flying under the radar with Silva and Mbappe in the team, Lemar was one of if not the most productive player for Monaco, he’ll thrive at Monaco with the other more known names gone.
For Porto having lost Neves and Silva, two big loses over the summer despite Neves not being a regular starter, the two players to keep an eye on would be Brahimi and Pereira. Brahimi being an accomplished winger and Pereira being an intelligent defensive midfielder who helps his defence out a lot. Porto, I don’t think will pose too many problems in this group having lost in my opinion, their two best players.
Besiktas, their greatest acquisition this summer was their social media hashtag asking if you are #ComingToBesiktas – they were so bad they were excellent. They have added Pepe and Negredo this summer, they’ve kept hold of Quaresma but, you should look out for Talisca who is on loan from Benfica, he’ll be the stand out player in that team.
Watch out for Leipzig though, they’ll be a team no one will want to face.
By: Scotty Tridge and Nicki Dupre
Photo: Red Bull Media House