RB Leipzig have been living a fairy tale since taking their very first steps in the Bundesliga in 2016/17. Four top-three finishes in five years have ensured the club from Germany's former East has continued to grow, and the sky is the limit in Saxony.
Founded in just 2009 when energy drink company Red Bull bought the playing rights of SSV Markranstädt to the fifth tier Oberliga, RasenballSport Leipzig’s seven-year rise to the Bundesliga was certainly meteoric. Much of the club’s success is down to Ralf Rangnick, who took over as sporting director in 2012 with the side making their third attempt to win promotion from the fourth tier. He was immediately successful, and after bringing in then unknown youngsters such as Joshua Kimmich, Yussuf Poulsen and Diego Demme, RB reached Bundesliga 2 at the first time of asking. The addition of further core players like Willi Orban, Marcel Halstenberg and Emil Forsberg ensured Bundesliga promotion within just two seasons in the second tier, bringing top-flight football back to the founding city of the German FA (DFB) for the first time in over two decades.
Their maiden campaign in Germany’s top tier was equally barnstorming as they pushed champions Bayern Munich all the way for the title. In the end Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side fell just short, but a second-place finish did ensure UEFA Champions League football at the first time of asking as they became the first Bundesliga debutant since German reunification to qualify for Europe. Their second top-flight campaign ended in sixth with UEFA Europa League qualification, followed by a return to the Champions League with third place in 2018/19 as well as their first DFB Cup final appearance. The arrival of Julian Nagelsmann as coach propelled them even further as they reached the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in 2019/20. The young coach then earned the even younger club runners-up finishes in the league and cup in 2020/21.
Bundesliga runners-up (2017, 2021)
DFB Cup finalists (2019, 2021)
UEFA Champions League semi-finalists (2020)
Bundesliga 2 promotion (2015/16)Third division promotion (2013/14)Regionalliga Nordost champions (2012/13)NOFV-Oberliga Süd champions (2009/10)2x Saxony Cup (2011, 2013)
After two years of further development under Nagelsmann, American Jesse Marsch takes over at the helm for the 2021/22 season. The 47-year-old Wisconsin native joins after guiding sister club Red Bull Salzburg to two consecutive domestic doubles in Austria. He was previously assistant at Leipzig under Rangnick in 2018/19, impressing with his quick learning of German, following three successful years in charge of New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer.
After the departure of record goalscorer Timo Werner, Leipzig have been more about the unit rather than the individual, finishing second in 2020/21 without any player reaching double figures for goals. Goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi is their rock at the back and kept the most clean sheets in the Bundesliga in 2020/21, Dani Olmo is their creativity in the attacking third, and club record appearance holder Poulsen remains a vital asset in attack, but it’s captain Marcel Sabitzer who makes them tick. A winger converted into a central midfielder in a manner similar to Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Austrian top scored for Leipzig with eight in the league last season, but he’s mainly responsible for ball distribution, getting the team moving forward and now also winning the ball back.
Watch: The best of Sabitzer
2020/21 was the second season under the tutelage of Nagelsmann. After reaching the Champions League semi-finals the year before, the team was expected to progress, but had to do so without top scorer Werner after his summer departure. Die Roten Bullen pushed Bayern almost all the way for the title, finally losing pace with three games to spare. They also reached a second DFB Cup final for the second time in three years, but again came up short. In 2019 it was against Bayern; this time the opponents were Dortmund. You sense it’s only a matter of time before a first major honour is placed into the trophy room at the Red Bull Arena.
Leipzig’s Red Bull Arena has stood in its current form since 2004, when it was reconstructed within the city’s old Zentralstadion in a manner similar to Chicago’s Soldier Field. The rebuild was done for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, where Leipzig hosted five games. RB took over the stadium in 2010 and the name was changed to the Red Bull Arena, which currently holds 44,146 spectators for football matches following recent renovations but can hold up to 50,000 for concerts and other events.
One of the largest cities in former East Germany, Leipzig has the nickname “City of Heroes” for the role it played in the fall of communism in Eastern Europe and German reunification because of the peaceful Monday demonstrations that took place outside St. Nicholas Church during the 1980s. Over a quarter of a century later, those peace prayers are still held on Mondays, and the church remains one of the most potent symbols of German reunification outside of Berlin.
Since reunification, the city has undergone massive redevelopment as it looks to compete with other metropolises in the former West. But despite the extensive modernisation, the city’s history remains a focal point for visitors. The most famous museum is the “Runde Ecke”, which is based in the old headquarters of the Stasi in the city. Nowadays it is dedicated to informing about the function, methods and history of East Germany’s former secret police. For those with further interest in the former German Democratic Republic, there is a popular shop known as “Ossiladen” that only sells products from the old East Germany. Described as a “time capsule in a shop”, it is a must for anyone who wants a taste of the East German experience.
As well as vast open areas to enjoy, including Germany’s oldest botanical garden containing around 7,000 different species and one of Europe’s most modern zoos, the Bach Archive is an institute researching and documenting the life and work of Baroque musician Johann Sebastian Bach, who lived in the city for 27 years before his death.
A final must-see monument in the city is the Völkerschlachtdenkmal – the Monument to the Battle of the Nations. Standing at almost 300 ft tall, it commemorates the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig in 1813, which was at the time the largest battle in Europe before World War I, featuring 600,000 soldiers from across the continent.
Leipzig/Halle Airport primarily serves European and domestic destinations. Travellers from further afield will likely have to connect through international hubs, while frequent internal connecting flights are also available from major international airports such as Cologne/Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich. German high-speed ICE trains also run frequent services between Berlin and Munich with a stop in Leipzig, making Berlin only an hour away. There are also direct connections from Frankfurt Airport.
Getting to the Red Bull Arena
The Red Bull Arena is well connected in the Leipzig public transport network. Tram lines 3, 4, 7, 8 and 15 all pass by the stadium and the closest stations are Waldplatz or Sportforum Süd. On matchdays additional services are also provided with lines 51 and 56. All match tickets entitle holders to free public transport for four hours before and four hours after the game.
Tickets can still be bought via the official club website HERE.
Watch on TV
If you can’t make it to the stadium, Bundesliga matches are broadcast around the world. ESPN provides coverage in the United States, while BT Sports are the exclusive broadcaster in the United Kingdom. In Germany, Sky Sports show the majority of matches, with DAZN hosting one match per week.
Buying the kit
You can get your own Leipzig jersey from the official club shop.
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