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Five reasons why RB Leipzig are level with Bayern

Berlin (AFP) – New boys RB Leipzig are level with leaders Bayern Munich on 24 points at the top of the Bundesliga table in Germany’s top flight and on a record run.

AFP sports looks at five reasons why the Red Bull-backed outfit from the former East Germany city is still unbeaten after their first ten games:

Lots of cash, cautious signings 

Unlike many other newly-promoted teams in their first Bundesliga season, RB Leipzig are not wanting for cash.

They are bankrolled by Red Bull co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz and the Austrian billionaire has pumped in cash since the club was founded in 2009.

Four promotions in seven years saw RB Leipzig earn a Bundesliga place, but their recruitment policy is to buy rising talent, rather than established stars on big salaries.

For example, 50 million euros was available and their main recruitment this season has seen Scotland international Oliver Burke signed from Nottingham Forest for 15 million euros ($16.8m).

Greece defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos has been signed on loan from Leverkusen and more could follow in January’s winter break.

Strategist Rangnick

In director of sport Ralf Rangnick, RB Leipzig have an experienced campaigner who knows how to take a new team to the top of the Bundesliga.

The 58-year-old guided Schalke to the Champions League semi-finals in 2011.

And eight years ago, he steered Hoffenheim to the top of the German league table by Christmas, only for them to finish seventh in their first German league season in 2008/09.

Mateschitz leaves the day-to-day running to Rangnick, who focuses on recruitment and managing the club, including rising expectations.

“I believe over the course of the season, no one will really be a danger to Bayern,” said Rangnick.

“We have made a fantastic start, but no Champions League or Europa League places are given out after only ten matches.”

Clear playing policy

Working under Rangnick is coach Ralph Hasenhuettl and his clear playing policy favours fast-paced football and quick counter-attacking.

From the youth sides up, each of the club’s teams has the same playing style.

Hasenhuettl’s rotation policy means even captain Dominik Kaiser has had to get used to starting games on the bench and the lack of a superstar means that the team comes first.

“It is extraordinary that we have scored so many points in the past few weeks, but we have earned them,” insisted Kaiser.

Ironclad discipline

The young squad is eager to learn and follow the lead set by Hasenhuettl and Rangnick, one example being the squad’s refusal to accept the ‘Bayern Hunters’ tag the German media is so eager to pin on them.

“You may call us what you want, but for us it is more important to see where we need to improve, we haven’t played a top team for a while,” said Hasenhuettl.

The team is disciplined on the pitch, giving away 19 yellow cards (no reds) in ten games and beating clubs like Dortmund, Hamburg and Wolfsburg.

Their 3-1 win at home to Mainz on Sunday saw RB Leipzig equal the record of MSV Duisburg, set in 1993/94, who were also unbeaten in their first ten games after promotion.

They will next be tested at Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen on November 19 and face Bayern in a mouth-watering showdown in Munich on December 20.

The talk in Saxony is of emulating the stunning achievement of Kaiserslautern, who won the Bundesliga title in 1997/98 straight after promotion.

City support

There is euphoria around the former East German city of Leipzig at having a club in the top flight.

The club have sold out four of their five Bundesliga home games so far this season with 42,558 fans packed into the Red Bull Arena.

Rival clubs have threatened to boycott matches in Leipzig, but home supporters are clamouring for tickets.

The club is hoping to unveil plans for a new stadium or a renovation of the Red Bull Arena, which hosted 2006 World Cup matches, and wants a ground which will hopefully accommodate 70,000.

So eager is the city to accomodate the club that the post of ‘RB commissioner’ is being set up to ensure two-way communication.

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