Going into matchday 16 of the Bundesliga pits the top two sides against each other and no, it’s not both of the usual suspects. It’s serial winners Bayern Munich and the controversial RB Leipzig, who were formed in 2009, weeks after Bayern Munich finished second in the Bundesliga.
RB Leipzig were formed in May 2009 and were the fifth team of the ‘Red Bull’ franchise. A common misconception of their name is that it is abbreviated as ‘Red Bull Leipzig’, when in actual fact it is said as ‘RasenBall Leipzig’. The club began the 2009/10 season in the Oberliga, the fifth tier of German football.
Some love Leipzig, some hate them. Some have mentioned them in the same breath as the fantastic Leicester side which won the Premier League title in 2015/16. Others compare them to the franchise fiasco which has become MK Dons after their controversial relocation from Wimbledon in 2004.
So, why do some hate RB Leipzig so much?
German football has a fine fan tradition, thus a majority control by a single entity is not permitted by the Deutsche Fußball Liga. So, being owned by a worldwide energy drinks company hasn’t gone down well with football traditionalists.
The financial backing given to the club has been somewhat unfair in comparison to the clubs they have faced in their short, yet eventful history. While this can’t be stopped and perhaps seems a petulant excuse, it still stems back to the controversial ownership of the club giving them this advantage.
Players are tossed and thrown between Red Bull Franchises like they are toys, no fewer than NINE players have made the switch from Red Bull Salzburg to RB Leipzig. (Salzburg are a club who had their soul ripped from them, leading to the reformation of the ‘previous’ club, Austria Salzburg)
As mentioned, they are loved by many around the globe due to the sheer romance that the story of RB Leipzig has offered. Four promotions in seven years suggests a massive rise, even if financially backed.
To be fair, the people of Leipzig shouldn’t be sneered at. The city has 570,000 inhabitants, more than Manchester, Liverpool, Nottingham and Leicester. They are normal people who are just glad to have a Leipzig team in the Bundesliga, due to the next best Leipzig team being Lokomotiv Leipzig F.C, a team currently playing it’s football in the fourth division in front of just a few thousand fans.
Their continious rise has resulted in attendances increasing from 2,000 to 30,000 in seven years, suggesting the support they quite obviously receive from the people of Leipzig. However it reverts to the original sentence, do they feel a connection due to having little to no fan power? Are they just a corporate business?
It is also good for the people of East Germany. They have a club in the Bundesliga for the first time since Energie Cottbus were relegated in 2009, again, weeks before Leipzig were even formed.
While I also agree with the fact that Bayern Munich’s dominance should (and will) be contested over the coming years. I feel that RB Leipzig have gone about their business in the incorrect manner and I’d also argue their club lacks a proper ‘soul’, something which is synonymous with German clubs, as reflected in ticket prices.
Despite all of that, it’s a distinct possibility that in May 2017, eight years after their formation, RB Leipzig could lift the Bundesliga and become the first Leipzig side since 1903 to do so.
There is no denying it could happen, they have built a very solid team with bags of potential. Naby Keita is being tracked by top European clubs. He is partnered by the brother of Sami Khedira, Rani. The attack is spearheaded by German wonderkid, Timo Werner who is flanked by internationals Emil Forsberg and Marcel Sabitzer, as well as on loan Leverkusen defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos and ex-Liverpool shot stopper Peter Gulasci. These, along with promising youngesters such as Oliver Burke, Lukas Klostermann, Youssuf Poulsen and Davie Selke perhaps spell a good future for RB Leipzig.
Is that squad as strong as Dortmund, Bayern, Schalke and the like? Maybe not, but they are proving the world wrong, and rightly or wrongly, they may end up winning the Bundesliga, let’s see what happens against Bayern Munich.