BERLIN, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) — Last season’s surprise RB Leipzig has turned into a problem case.
After several key performers including former coach Julian Nagelsmann left, the club’s reorientation attempts resulted in disappointing results.
Ahead of the 2021/2022 Champions League campaign opener against Premier League giant Manchester City this Tuesday evening, RB’s new coach Jesse Marsch complains about a too heavy load for the start.
“These challenges might be too difficult for us at the moment,” the 47-year-old US-American said after his side lost three of its four Bundesliga games this season including the duel against Bayern last weekend (4-1).
Having replaced departing Nagelsmann (Bayern) by the former Salzburg coach, the Bundesliga’s last season second seems stuck in the middle of a developing process.
Returning to a pure counter-attacking football counting on a drastic pressing style means turning away from Nagelsmann’s strategy to partly rely on more ball possession and game control.
Marsch returned to a back-row of four but has to live with the turbulence that come with the changes in a 4-2-3-1 system.
Former City performer Angelino might be a good example of a well-equipped side team still struggling with its coaches demands.
Under Nagelsmann, the Spaniard in a back-chain of three was given unlimited freedom for attacks. With Marsch, the 24-year-old has to slip back into the role of a traditional full-back mainly busy with defense issues.
Several of Marsch’s players couldn’t attend the pre-season preparation to a satisfying extent due to a recovery break after the 2020 European Championships.
“What we are about to do needs more time,” Marsch said. “We don’t seem ready yet.”
Aside of Nagelsmann, Leipzig lost defender Dayot Upamecano and midfield-conductor Marcel Sabitzer (Bayern), Alexander Sorloth (Real Sociedad) and Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool).
Established defense forces such as Upamecano and Konate were replaced by promising, but young Josko Gvardiol (19) and Mohamed Simakan (21).
Marsch meanwhile has skipped plans to “survive in top games against the top teams” as the club’s next main topic. Early in the season, RB’s goal to again qualify for the Champions League seems in danger.
Oliver Mintzlaff rejected accusations; Leipzig is suffering after an uncontrolled sell-out. The CEO mentioned Upamecano’s exit-clause and spoke about Nagelsmann and Sabitzer pushing their transfer to Bayern.
While Leipzig last season enjoyed a perfect start being placed among the top three in the national league, the team this time desperately needs to catch up.
Last season, Leipzig managed to survive a Champions League group containing Paris and United. This season it seems to require more than a miracle to reach the next round having to face Paris and City in the group.
“I am far from giving up already. It’s far too early as we still have a strong squad. We will make it,” Marsch insisted.
Despite the expressed courage, it seems, the coach and his team have to accept an unfamiliar role: the one of an underdog for some time.