2023 has come to an end and the Bundesliga enters its traditional Winterpause, which gives us here at Bundesliga Fanatic the ideal opportunity to take a closer look at each of the eighteen clubs and rate their performance in the first half of the season. Next we run the rule over RB Leipzig.
The story so far
After triumphing over Bayern Munich in the Supercup on the eve of the new season, Leipzig started the campaign with much optimism and many observers pencilling them as potential title contenders. As it has turned out it has been Bayer Leverkusen who have become the number one contenders to usurp Bayern with die Roten Bullen trying to keep pace along with VfB Stuttgart and Borussia Dortmund.
After their 3-0 win at the Allianz Arena, the opening day of the season pitted them against Leverkusen and they came out on the wrong end of the 3-2 scoreline at the Bay Arena. Normal service resumed with a run of four consecutive wins with 12 goals scored and just one conceded. VfB Stuttgart were trounced 5-1 before they emerged as a top four contender. Willi Orban suffered a knee injury on international duty while the club’s new defensive signing El Chadaille Bitshiabu was also ruled out with a pre-season ligament injury.
Matchday 6 saw them once again stun Bayern by racing into a deserved 2-0 lead by half-time at the Red Bull Arena, only for the Rekordmeister to hit back with two goals of their own in the second period. A disappointing stalemate with Bochum followed before both Darmstadt and Köln were dispatched with the Billy Goats being hit for six.
A shock defeat to Mainz in Jan Siewert’s first game in charge was followed by a third loss of the season two games later when VfL Wolfsburg beat them 2-1. The final four games before the Winterpause saw them keep themselves in contention with three wins and a draw.
Marco Rose’s side were eliminated from the DFB Pokal meaning they won’t be defending the trophy they have won for the past two years, but they did progress from the group stage of the Champions League as runner-up to Manchester City.
Having lost key players such as Dominik Szoboszlai, Josko Gvardiol and Christopher Nkunku in the summer the new arrivals at the club have all settled in well with Lois Openda, Castello Lukeba, Christoph Baumgartner and Xavi Simons all becoming key cogs in the Leipzig machine. The gap to leaders Bayer Leverkusen is nine points and to Bayern it is five meaning that Leipzig cannot afford to allow themselves many more slip ups.
Tale of the tape
Record: 10-3-3, 33 points (2.06 per game), 4th in Bundesliga
Home Record: 20 points (6-2-0) Away Record: 13 points (4-1-3)
Goals: 38 (2.38 per game), Goals Against: 17 (1.06 per game), Diff: +21
xG: 32.1, xGA: 18.5
The 5-1 mauling of VfB Stuttgart on matchday 2, seen in the subsequent light of the Swabians’ Hinrunde performances, is now even more impressive than first perceived. The first half against Bayern, the 6-0 win over Köln and the 3-2 win over Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park were all highlights.
Losing to Mainz (their only win of the entire Hinrunde) was a low point as was their elimination from the DFB Pokal at the hands of VfL Wolfsburg.
Leipzig don’t normally sign loan players, but they may be coming around to the concept following the instant success and impact they’ve enjoyed with midfielder Xavi Simons so far this season. The talent of the former Barcelona and Paris St Germain youngster has never really been in doubt and following an impressive loan at PSV last year, die Roten Bullen brought him in this season.
He opened with a fantastic display to help beat Bayern in the Supercup and has carried his form forward throughout the Hinrunde. With four goals and nine assists so far, he has compensated for the absence of Dani Olmo and become an instant hit at the Red Bull Arena. The task now for the Leipzig bosses must surely be to find a way to hold on to him beyond the summer.
The Supercup promised so much going into the season, but Leipzig have been upstaged by the exploits of Bayer Leverkusen. They are nine points behind the Werkself and need a positive start to the New Year. They face Leverkusen at home in their second game back in January before taking on high-flyers Stuttgart on matchday 19. So far, so okay for Marco Rose’s side, but they need to step things up in the Rückrunde to keep pace with the leaders.