Julian Nagelsmann beat Bayern Munich twice as coach of Hoffenheim. Can his RB Leipzig get the better of the champions next season? - © 2018 DFL
Julian Nagelsmann beat Bayern Munich twice as coach of Hoffenheim. Can his RB Leipzig get the better of the champions next season? - © 2018 DFL

"RB Leipzig ready to challenge Bayern Munich" - Julian Nagelsmann


New RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann thinks his team are one of a number who could topple Bayern Munich as Bundesliga champions in 2019/20.

Borussia Dortmund came a close second to Bayern last term, edged by two points on the final day, but their captain Marco Reus said recently that he expects Leipzig to be in the mix as well in 2019/20.

Leipzig finished third last season, 12 points behind Bayern, and Nagelsmann – who arrived from Hoffenheim over the close season – feels that both Dortmund and his new side have the potential to trouble the record German champions.

Watch: Leipzig's nine-goal thriller with Bayern in May 2017 laid down the marker for what has become a latter day classic.

“I think we’re all already in a position to challenge Bayern,” he told German sports magazine kicker. “But it’s not only Bayern – there are lot of interesting teams this year, with a lot of new coaches and changes.”

However, Nagelsmann was also keen to play down the comments made by Reus, who recently picked up the 2019 German Footballer of the Year award.

“I’m concentrating on us, on my lads, and what they’re saying,” the 32-year-old said. “What we bring to the field is what matters – we’re focusing on our performance.

“Of course it’s nice that Marco Reus thinks we can do something. Likewise, I think that Dortmund have a very good squad. But that’s quite normal…That’s also good for the league.

“I think that there are quite a few ambitious teams. And we’re also among those ambitious teams.”

"Our nearest challengers could come from right here, Marcel." - Marco Reus (r.), who scored one of his 17 Bundesliga goals last season against RB Leipzig, is expecting big things from the Saxony club. - 2019 Getty Images

Nagelsmann, who guided Hoffenheim to back-to-back top-four finishes during over three years in charge, believes the new campaign will be “be one of the most balanced” in the league for a long time.

How Leipzig cope with the demands of playing in the UEFA Champions League, then, could dictate how well they do in the Bundesliga. Nagelsmann previously led Hoffenheim to the Champions League for the first time in their history, and he is hopeful that Leipzig can impress on their second ever appearance in the competition.

They finished third in their group on their debut in 2017/18, but – after raiding the English Premier League to bring in Ademola Lookman and Ethan Ampadu this summer – their new boss hopes they can qualify for the last 16 this time.

“We’ll try to do that too,” said Nagelsmann, who has previously spoken about his desire to win silverware with Leipzig. “Obviously that depends a lot on the draw – which teams we get.”

England U21 attacker Ademola Lookman returned to Leipzig from Everton this summer. - imago images / Picture Point LE

“It’s good that some in the squad already have some, and that the coach has already done it too. And that will increase the likelihood that we can play in a more stable manner than last time.”

Leipzig, who will be either third or fourth seeds for the group stage draw, will find out their fate on 29 August.

“It depends on a lot of things,” Nagelsmann said of their chances of clinching a top-two finish in order to qualify for the knockout stage.

“We’re an extremely young team. How quickly will the team handle the strain? We haven’t had 100 Champions League games but such experience is few and far between.