Domenico Tedesco guided RB Leipzig to a fourth-placed finish and their first major trophy after being appointed in December last year. Competition for places will be fierce in his first full season in charge, so how will last season’s DFB Cup winners up line up in 2022/23?
There have been a few noteworthy changes at Leipzig over the summer, with US midfielder Tyler Adams joining Leeds United and being replaced by former Wolfsburg man Xaver Schlager, Germany left-back David Raum has joined from Hoffenheim and Timo Werner has returned to the club after a two-year spell at Chelsea.
In many ways, that such moves come as no surprise. Leipzig were the best team in the second half of the 2021/22 season, taking 36 points from 17 matches along with Bayer Leverkusen. That was one more than Borussia Dortmund managed and two more than champions Bayern Munich collected.
Considering they were 11th when Tedesco took over in December, a fourth-placed finish and UEFA Champions League qualification was worthy reward for the positive influence the former Schalke boss had. Tedesco also guided his team to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals and - perhaps most importantly of all - got Leipzig over the line in the DFB Cup final.
Watch: How coach Tedesco transformed RB Leipzig
A storming second half of the season will give them confidence for the new one then, as well as seeing a first major piece of silverware finally resting in the trophy cabinet.
A Supercup encounter against Bayern marks another sign of progress, and Tedesco will hope that momentum will carry his team further in 2022/23, even if they did end up on the losing side.
There's no reason to tinker too much with a winning formula - particularly when he already has one of the strongest squads in the division. For as well as individual quality, Leipzig have real squad depth and quality replacements in practically every position.
Tedesco has favoured a 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1 system so far, and there was no sign of that changing in pre-season. Captain Peter Gulacsi is the undisputed No. 1 as he has been for the club's entire Bundesliga existence, while fellow Hungary international Willi Orban will provide similar stability at the heart of the back three. Croatian Josko Gvardiol has been carrying an injury heading into the new season, so Marcel Halstenberg should deputise on the left side of defence in his absence. On the right, Mohamed Simakan and Lukas Klostermann will be competing for a place in the starting XI.
On the wing, Benjamin Henrichs has staked his claim for one berth, while Raum is surely intended to replace Angelino on the left. And then Tedesco has five options for the central midfield positions. The robust Schlager is a strong physical presence, but he will have a job on his hands dislodging the equally hardworking Kevin Kampl and compatriot Konrad Laimer. Mali international Amadou Haidara will hope to put a frustrating season - ended by a knee injury in March - behind him, while former Barcelona player Ilaix Moriba will also be keen to impress after returning from a loan spell at Valencia and getting minutes during pre-season.
There are no shortage of exciting options further up the field either. Spain's Dani Olmo, Sweden's Emil Forsberg and Hungary's Dominik Szoboszlai are all top attacking midfielders but at least one of them is likely to have to miss out on a starting place each week. With Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League commitments, however, all three are likely to see plenty of game time.
One thing for sure is that Nkunku will be one of the first names on Tedesco's teamsheet. As he demonstrated last season, the 24-year-old is equally dangerous as an attacking midfielder or even further forward. Nkunku was named as the Bundesliga's Player of the Season for 2021/22 as a result of getting 20 goals and 13 assists from 34 appearances.
Watch: Nkunku - Leipzig's superstar
Andre Silva was next on the Leipzig scoring chart with 11 in the league, and the Portuguese striker will fancy his chances of improving on that this time around. After all, he hit 12 in his debut campaign with Eintracht Frankfurt before knocking in 28 the following season.
Competition for places up top has intensified, however, following the return of Germany international Werner from Chelsea, leaving Tedesco spoiled for choice in that department: Yussuf Poulsen may not be a prolific scorer but he is always a reliable performer, while Norway international Alexander Sorloth is back in contention after a season on loan with Real Sociedad.
With a healthy mix of star power, experience and depth no matter where you look, Leipzig are therefore well stocked for the new season. Now to see if Tedesco can get the blend right for a title challenge.
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