With a terrific defense and an underperforming offense, RB Leipzig was able grind its way to a second place finish in the Bundesliga last season — just one spot behind the Rekordmeister, Bayern Munich.
Throughout the campaign, Bundesliga fans often uttered, “Just imagine if Leipzig had any offense.”
Fast forward a couple of months, subtract a couple of talented defenders, add a dynamic striker in former Eintracht Frankfurt star Andre Silva, and a hungry manager with a lot to prove, and now you have…something.
What exactly that is remains to be seen, but it has the potential to be...great.
If you really want to put on your “What if?” cap, just think about where RB Leipzig would be if the flagship “franchise” of the Red Bull empire would have been able to push Erling Haaland to East Germany from RB Salzburg instead of selling him to Borussia Dortmund?
That is water under the Koenneritz Bridge at this point, but the point remains that Die Roten Bullen is assembling squad that has the potential to go punch-for-punch with Bayern Munich — even after losing such players as Timo Werner, Dayot Upamecano, and Ibrahim Konate over the past few seasons.
If the club can find a way to keep Marcel Sabitzer, this could be a formidable unit completely capable of dethroning Bayern Munich.
Let’s take a look at how the roster is shaping up...
Despite his questionable ability to grow hair out of nowhere, Peter Gulacsi is a stud.
Even without Upamecano and Konate, Leipzig has Willi Orban, Lukas Klostermann, Marcel Halstenberg, Nordi Mukiele, and Angelino — plus new addition Josko Gvardiol is expected to make a big impact. If Die Roten Bullen makes the move to convert Klostermann into a center-back full-time, I think he has fantastic potential to be a game-changer there. While losing Upamecano and Konate should be painful...it might not sting as much as many think. Neither player is irreplaceable.
None of that even counts Benjamin Henrichs, who has not been great with Leipzig, but is still a player has some potential.
Sabitzer is one of the best in the game and he be surrounded by excellent players in Tyler Adams, Konrad Laimer, Kevin Kampl, and Amadou Haidara. This group is deep and talented to say the least.
Silva adds a new, consistent element to the offense, while experienced players like Emil Forsberg, Dani Olmo, Yussuf Poulsen, Alexander Sörloth, Christopher Nkunku all have potential to be strong players.
The X-factor for the RB Leipzig offense will absolutely be Dominik Szoboszlai, a dynamic and dangerous threat, whose career over the last six months has been derailed by injuries. If healthy — and in a lineup with his much potential — the 20-year-old could be a big problem.
I’m not saying Bayern Munich should be scared, but the Bavarians absolutely need to be aware. As Julian Nagelsmann prepares for the upheaval process in potentially changing to a 3-4-3, Bayern Munich could be susceptible to a season’s worth of growing pains as the new coach tries to make this roster fit into a system that it might not exactly be suited for.
Could RB Leipzig or Borussia Dortmund finally seize the moment and sneak by the Bavarians to claim the Bundesliga crown?
Maybe…maybe not, but — on the surface — this looks like it could be the type of season where crazy things happen.