Connect with us

Leagues: Bundesliga

Hasenhuettl braced for test of Leipzig’s mettle


Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl admits his young side face a test of their mettle as legitimate Bundesliga title challengers with three tough matches, starting on Saturday.

Leipzig are second only to Bayern Munich in Germany’s top flight with the league resuming this weekend after the four-week winter break.

But RB now host fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, then Hoffenheim, the only Bundesliga team still unbeaten this season, before playing Borussia Dortmund away.

All three teams are in the top six and Dortmund have not lost in the league at home since April 2015.

Leipzig, who are in their first season in Germany’s top flight, kept Bayern from the top of the Bundesliga table for three weeks until mid-December.

Hasenhuettl says his side will bounce back from their 3-0 trouncing at Bayern before Christmas and can challenge the Bavarians’ stranglehold on the league title since 2012.

“If anybody thinks we’ll put on less pressure, then they are kidding themselves,” Hasenhuettl told reporters on Friday.

“We have the ambition to be top even the way things have gone so far this season.”

And what a season it has been so far for RB Leipzig, who were only founded in 2009.

They started with a 13-game unbeaten run, a record for a team in their first Bundesliga season, beating Dortmund, Wolfsburg, Bremen, Leverkusen and Hamburg in the process.

But Hasenhuettl admits they now face the supreme test against high-flying Frankfurt, Hoffenheim and Dortmund, who all want to claim their second place.

“These are three real crackers. This isn’t the time to curl up in a ball, but to put the foot to the floor,” he said.

“This is the phase where we will discover just how good we are and what level we are at.”

RB Leipzig are backed by energy drinks giants Red Bull, whose co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz has set the minimum goal of Europa League qualification — which means finishing sixth.

Leipzig enjoy a six-point cushion over third-placed Hertha Berlin, but a Champions League place beckons if they can maintain the form which saw them lose just two of their 16 games so far.

Hasenhuettl knows they have lost the element of surprise and future opponents will not take them lightly.

“It’s clear that we do not want to give up our place without a fight, but I can not say what will happen at the end of the season,” Hasenhuettl told magazine Der Spiegel.

“In all honesty, it will be harder than easier from now on, but we have no fear.”

Frankfurt will be without key midfielders Szabolcs Huszti (Achilles tendon) and Marco Fabian (hip).

Leipzig are missing playmaker Emil Forsberg, who is suspended for the next three games having been sent off against Bayern for a reckless tackle.

Guinea midfielder Naby Keita is set to start for Forsberg while new signing, French teenager Dayot Upamecano, is expected to be on the bench.

Leipzig centre-backs Willi Orban and Marvin Compper will have the job of subduing Frankfurt’s burly forward Alex Meier, the league’s top scorer in 2014/15.

200+ Channels With Sports & News
  • Starting price: $33/mo. for fubo Latino Package
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup, Euro 2024 & more
  • Includes NBC, USA, FOX, ESPN, CBSSN & more
Live & On Demand TV Streaming
  • Price: $35/mo. for Sling Blue
  • Watch Premier League, World Cup & MLS
  • Includes USA, NBC, FOX, FS1 + more
Many Sports & ESPN Originals
  • Price: $6.99/mo. (or get ESPN+, Hulu & Disney+ for $13.99/mo.)
  • Features Bundesliga, LaLiga, Championship, & more
  • Also includes daily ESPN FC news & highlights show
2,000+ soccer games per year
  • Price: $4.99/mo
  • Features Champions League, Serie A, Europa League & NWSL
  • Includes CBS, Star Trek & CBS Sports HQ
175 Premier League Games & PL TV
  • Starting price: $4.99/mo. for Peacock Premium
  • Watch 175 exclusive EPL games per season
  • Includes Premier League TV channel plus movies, TV shows & more

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Leagues: Bundesliga

Translate »