With goal machine Timo Werner (l.) leading the way, how have RB Leipzig fared in their maiden campaign under Julian Nagelsmann (r.)? - © 2019 Getty Images
With goal machine Timo Werner (l.) leading the way, how have RB Leipzig fared in their maiden campaign under Julian Nagelsmann (r.)? - © 2019 Getty Images

RB Leipzig: 2019/20 season so far


Timo Werner's goals and Julian Nagelsmann's canny man-management have helped RB Leipzig push hard for the Bundesliga title this season.

bundesliga.com looks at Die Roten Bullen's charge to the top of the table.

Who they signed: The most highly anticipated arrival at the Red Bull Arena was not for the pitch, but the dug-out. Nagelsmann is Europe's hottest young coaching property right now, and his decision to swap Hoffenheim for Leipzig was a significant statement of intent from both parties. If he could turn Hoffenheim from relegation candidates into a UEFA Champions League side, what might he do with Leipzig's up-and-coming squad?

Fending off serious interest in Werner was almost as important as Nagelsmann's appointment, but Die Roten Bullen did give their new boss the tools to work with by strengthening a squad that finished third last season. Christopher Nkunku spied a chance for regular first-team football after struggling to pin down a starting place at Paris Saint-Germain and Patrik Schick also joined in the summer, completing a season-long loan move from Roma. Spanish full-back Angelino — borrowed from Manchester City — and compatriot attacking midfielder Dani Olmo, signed from Dinamo Zagreb, were added in January to give weighty strength in depth.

Watch: How Nagelsmann has improved Leipzig

What they expected: Heavy defeats to Aston Villa and FC Zürich in pre-season did not bode well, and the narrow DFB Cup win over Osnabrück in their first competitive outing of 2019/20 was nothing to get excited about either.

But with a new coach and on the back of their DFB Cup final appearance and 2018/19 league form, Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff laid bare the club's ambitions at Nagelsmann's official unveiling.

"We're now entering a new era. We want more," he explained. "We got a taste for it in the cup final and want to kick on in the Bundesliga."

How it played out: True to their nickname, they charged out of the block like red bulls in a china shop. The first five games brought almost a full house with four wins and a draw — against Bayern Munich — before the maiden defeat on Matchday 6 at home to Schalke slammed on the brakes at the start of a winless stretch of four matches.

But talk about bouncing back. A club record 8-0 dismissal of Mainz on Matchday 10 heralded a fabulous run of form. Nagelsmann's men ran riot, scoring 34 times in an eight-game streak that saw them win every fixture bar the 3-3 thriller away at Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 16.

Watch: Highlights of that record win over Mainz

Unsurprisingly, that fearsome pace took them to the top of the table, a position they enjoyed for five matchdays before the pack, and most notably Bayern, caught up.

The Matchday 19 loss at Frankfurt provoked the longest dip in form Leipzig have endured this season with just two wins in their last six before the Bundesliga was suspended. The 5-0 win at Schalke on Matchday 23 — arguably their signature performance of the season —and a battling goalless draw at Bayern came in that run, which was also unbeaten. With a friendly looking run of fixtures to come, if Leipzig find their form, the five-point gap to Bayern would not be particularly daunting.

Key player: Leipzig have scored a club record 62 league goals this season, and Werner has been involved in 28 of them. You don't need to be Einstein to work out the influence the jet-heeled 24-year-old has had on his team's campaign.

The fact only the peerless Robert Lewandowski has found the net more times than Werner says it all. The Germany international's 21 league strikes has already matched his career-PB from 2016/17, and that despite him having to adapt to a new position.

Watch: A closer look at how Werner is scoring so many goals

“He's finding space in between lines and is harder to predict," said Nagelsmann, while Werner added: "I'm now playing in a slightly different position as a kind of No.10. That helps me a lot. I've got a lot of freedom. You often have to wait a long time for your chance and stay patient. But I've developed in that regard.”

Best game: Schalke's win in Leipzig earlier in the season had rattled Nagelsmann's squad. The trip to Gelsenkirchen on Matchday 25 was all about making a point as well as taking all three.

Only Bayern – in the first league game at the Veltins Arena in 2019/20 – had beaten Schalke in front of their own fans. Leipzig did not so much defeat David Wagner's team as ruthlessly dismantle them. Marcel Sabitzer's first-minute goal set the tone, but it was a devastating four-goal flurry in the second half – with Nkunku grabbing four assists – that floored the hosts for Die Roten Bullen’s biggest ever away win ever in the Bundesliga.

Watch: Highlights of that resounding victory at Schalke

Biggest surprise: Nkunku played just over 50 Ligue 1 games in France for PSG and gave hints of his talent. Yet the academy product found playing time limited in the Parisians’ expensively assembled squad. All he needed was a club that would put its faith in his youthful talent, and Leipzig were the perfect match. He got three goals and two assists in 22 league matches for PSG last season — he's got four and 12 in those categories from 23 Bundesliga appearances this term. Enough said.