Christopher Nkunku goes into the 2021/22 DFB Cup final with Freiburg in career-best form, but who else can RB Leipzig count on in their bid to land a first major trophy? bundesliga.com picks out five of their top performers...
Christopher Nkunku (attacker)
Where else to start among the Leipzig squad than with their standout man of 2021/22? Fresh from being named the Bundesliga Player of the Season, Nkunku is looking to secure his and his club's first piece of major silverware in Germany. The 24-year-old recently confessed to French sports daily L'Équipe that he has "just ordered a trophy cabinet" – hardly surprising, given that he also has four Player of the Month prizes in need of a new home after his remarkable campaign. Nkunku has notched a whopping 34 goals in all competitions – including three in five DFB Cup outings – as well as providing 13 assists in the Bundesliga.
Watch: Christopher Nkunku named Player of the Season
Over the course of 2021/22, he has gone from promising youngster to one of world football's hottest properties – also making his international bow for France – and Freiburg will no doubt have identified him as the chief danger man on Saturday. "I've managed to develop my game and become a complete player, capable of playing in different positions," Nkunku explained, adding how "delighted and proud" he was to become France's first Bundesliga Player of the Season since Franck Ribery in 2008. Ribery already has six DFB Cup winner's medals in his trophy cabinet – Nkunku is out to start his collection this weekend.
Angelino has been one of the first names on the teamsheet for Leipzig this season, under both Jesse Marsch and current boss Domenico Tedesco. In his trademark left wing-back role in front of the team's three-man backline, the Spaniard provides stability at the back and plenty of menace going forward. Over the course of 2021/22, he was one of the Bundesliga's most prolific crossers of the ball (115, behind only David Raum and Filip Kostic), and made it into double figures for assists in all competitions.
The 25-year-old also pops up with some important goals, as Freiburg will remember from their Bundesliga trip to Leipzig in early March. Ermedin Demirovic had put the visitors on course for their first-ever win at the Red Bull Arena, but Angelino arrowed in a 90th-minute equaliser to rescue a 1-1 draw for Die Roten Bullen. He also conjured up a moment of magic in the UEFA Europa League semi-final against Rangers, firing in a spectacular late volley to give Leipzig a slender first-leg advantage.
Willi Orban (centre-back)
Leipzig's renaissance under Tedesco since December has been as much a story of defensive stability as one of attacking verve, and Orban is a key member of the bedrock protecting goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi. He has played the second-most minutes of any outfield player this season, behind Nkunku, and helped Leipzig to keep the joint-best defensive record in the Bundesliga along with champions Bayern Munich, as they conceded just 37 goals in 34 games.
Watch: Will Orban scored Leipzig's final goal of the 2021/22 Bundesliga season
A rugged centre-back who was born in Kaiserslautern but has made almost 30 international appearances for Hungary – his father's native country – Orban is a natural on-field leader, and acted as Leipzig's captain between 2017 and 2019. He is also a key aerial threat from set pieces, with four goals in all competitions this season. The most recent of them was a last-gasp equaliser in the season-ending 1-1 draw at Arminia Bielefeld, which ensured Leipzig would qualify for next term's UEFA Champions League ahead of Saturday's opponents Freiburg.
Emil Forsberg (attacker)
It was thanks to Forsberg that Leipzig booked their place in the DFB Cup final – for the second season running! Having already notched an extra-time winner against Werder Bremen to take his side to last year's showpiece – which they lost to Borussia Dortmund – the Swede repeated the feat against Union Berlin in this season's semi-finals, powering a 92nd-minute header past Frederik Rönnow to give Leipzig another dramatic 2-1 victory.
The 30-year-old has featured in 45 games this term, often as an impact substitute – and he could hardly have made a more meaningful impact against Union. He is also Leipzig's Mr. Reliable when it comes to penalties, converting all seven of his spot-kicks this season. He sits on 11 goals in all competitions for the campaign, putting him third in the Leipzig scoring charts behind Nkunku (34) and Andre Silva (17). Forsberg may not play every minute of every game, but he remains wickedly creative and has an eye for goal, not to mention a useful habit of breaking the deadlock in tightly contested encounters. Bring on Berlin!
Konrad Laimer (central midfielder)
One of the Bundesliga's most consistent midfield battlers, Laimer is likely to make a decisive contribution should Leipzig lift the trophy on Saturday – even if his name doesn't end up anywhere near the scoresheet. The Austria international provides an essential link between defence and attack, winning back possession and helping to put his side on the front foot. Though it is by no means the chief part of his job description, the 24-year-old has still had a hand in eight Bundesliga goals this term – scoring four and creating four – and he was on target in the 4-0 thrashing of Hannover in the DFB Cup quarter-finals.
After hammering in a spectacular long-range goal against Bayern early in the season, Laimer was the bane of Dortmund in early April, netting a first-half brace and teeing up Nkunku with a cheeky backheel as Leipzig romped to a 4-1 win. The Austrian is, therefore, no stranger to scoring goals on the big occasions, and Freiburg should be wary of giving him too much space on the edge of their penalty area at the Olympiastadion.
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