RB Leipzig got off to a flying start under new manager Julian Nagelsmann in match-week 1 with their emphatic 4-0 win over newly promoted side Union Berlin. It was a statement win from Die Roten Bullen. Nagelsmann’s side now faces the prospect of hosting Bayern in just 4 weeks’ time after a brief international break.
In a recent interview with Bild, Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer said his side is more than ready for Bayern’s visit to the Red Bull Arena on September 14th, and that they’re ready to challenge the perennial champions for the title this season. Asked whether he was nervous about such a massive clash so early on in the season, Laimer replied,
Then something would be wrong! No, I’m looking forward to the game. We’ll be playing against the first-place team, against the best team in Germany. It’ll be a spectacle. And we’ll definitely not be without a chance there.
Last season Leipzig had very close matches against both Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, having only lost to both sides by one goal despite playing very well. They lost to Bayern 1-0 and then drew the 0-0 in the league, and despite losing 4-1 to Dortmund on the opening day of last season, they narrowly lost to them 1-0 in the second half of the season. Laimer recognized that Leipzig was unlucky to have lost out on those occasions and feels that, with better luck this time around, their fortunes against those top sides could be a bit different:
All the games, except for the first one in Dortmund, were really close. We were missing only little details. A little luck, a few tenths of a second in certain moments. We nonetheless played well in phases. We’ll have to call on that on Saturday for 90 minutes.
Laimer started and played the full 90 minutes in Leipzig’s 2-1 (goals from Naby Keita and Timo Werner) win over Bayern at the Red Bull Arena in March, 2018. Of course, for that match Bayern had rotated extensively, as it was just two weeks before a clash against Dortmund that Bayern won 6-0. Still, though, Laimer described the compact shape that Leipzig utilized to frustrate Bayern and how they used their pressing high up the pitch to create scoring situations:
Every team wants to stay compact at the back. We’ve already demonstrated that we can do that well. Our strengths are pressing, our aggressiveness, our direct route to the goal. We were successful with that these past few weeks, and we can also annoy Bayern with that.
Joshua Kimmich has also warned of Leipzig’s unique pressing abilities, but Laimer feels that Bayern having respect for them won’t matter on the pitch:
The fact is: it was not always so easy against us. To that extent, if big FC Bayern has a little respect for us, we have worked hard for it. But our opponent’s respect does not give us anything or rather any points on the pitch.
With such a big encounter coming so early on in the season for both sides, Laimer said he doesn’t want Bayern to gain an edge in the title race by collecting three points at the Red Bull Arena. If they secure their 8th straight Bundesliga title, he said, he’d rather see them celebrate on their own turf:
We want to prevent that. I have no interest in watching a Weissbier shower after a home game. They can do that a week later at their home stadium as far as I’m concerned.