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Stunned RB Leipzig target return to top in Germany


Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig are targeting a quick return to the top of the Bundesliga table as they prepare to take on main rivals Hertha Berlin and Bayern Munich in quick succession.

Having spent three weeks leading the German league, new boys RB Leipzig, backed by Austrian drinks giants Red Bull, were beaten 1-0 by strugglers Ingolstadt last weekend which saw Bayern cut the three point gap to go top again on goal difference.

The shock defeat broke Leipzig’s eight-match winning streak and ended their record run of 13 matches unbeaten for a club at the start of their debut Bundesliga season.

Now second-placed RB face the teams either side of them in the table during the space of five days.

They host third-placed neighbours Hertha Berlin on Saturday at the Red Bull Arena, then have a daunting trip to Bayern’s Allianz Arena next Wednesday before the start of the Bundesliga’s winter break.

“Our senses have been sharpened, the pressure is gone, and now we have the goal to start a new run, although our next few games won’t be easy,” said Leipzig’s coach Ralph Hasenhuettl.

After the Hertha and Bayern tests, his side face a tough run at the start of 2017.

They resume after the four-week winter break in January by hosting Eintracht Frankfurt (currently 5th), then unbeaten Hoffenheim (4th) before playing Borussia Dortmund (6th) away to begin the new year with a bang.

Hasenhuettl admits the next five league games will be an acid test for his young team, which has an average age of just over 23.

“It is the phase in which we will see how good we really are and where we can place ourselves,” said the Austrian.

Leipzig are the only club from former East Germany in the top tier and neighbours Hertha will travel south also looking for a win after their shock 1-0 defeat at home to Werder Bremen last weekend.

“They will also be up for it and will do everything they can to make a success of it,” said Hasenhuettl, with Hertha currently six points behind Leipzig.

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