- Leipzig made best start to a season for Bundesliga newcomer.
- Only one club not finished in top two with as many points after 16 games.
- Newcomers aiming to keep things going in 2017.
In the end, the eagerly anticipated trip to Munich was one new experience RB Leipzig could happily have done without.
For the first time in their still-young Bundesliga history, the debutants came up against an unequivocally superior force. A 3-0 defeat in the summit meeting with Bayern München cast a slight shadow over an incredible pre-winter-break campaign – but only slight, and fleeting.
Watch: Highlights of Leipzig's historic win over Dortmund on Matchday 2:
"There's no denying it, we didn't play well," said sporting director Ralf Rangnick, before reflecting that, “In the first half, Bayern really beat us at our own game. Up to the break, they were better than they've been for a long time this season. By contrast, we didn't do ourselves justice today.” Coach Ralph Hasenhüttl concurred that "We got taught a lesson," but on the upside, “That's no bad thing. Our young team have learned you have to be totally on your game against opponents of this quality.”
In fact, they surely knew that much already. Adhering to that very credo has left Leipzig second in the table on 36 points from their first 16 games in the national top flight: The same number freshly promoted 1. FC Kaiserslautern had at the same stage in 1997/98, when they sensationally went on to win the title ahead of Bayern. Their Allianz Arena setback notwithstanding, a repeat performance from Leipzig this season remains by no means implausible.
Hasenhüttl's young guns have already shot down the likes of Dortmund, Leverkusen and Schalke in the course of an unparalleled start for a Bundesliga newbie. In tandem with Rangnick, the new coach is honing a high-pressing, swift counter-attacking style which has thus far proved too hot for most opponents to handle. As a result, a club only formed in 2009 are currently in the fast lane to an automatic place in the Champions League.
It was not until Matchday 14 that they came up short for the first time, losing 1-0 at Ingolstadt. Coming against the side then bottom of the table, that, unlike the defeat at Bayern, was something of a surprise. Leipzig responded positively, with a convincing win against fellow top-enders Hertha Berlin: They will be looking to restart the season in January with a similar result on the rebound.
Watch: Highlights of Leipzig's impressive Matchday 15 victory against Hertha Berlin:
Before the winter break even began, the Saxon outfit took another significant step towards the top by announcing the imminent purchase of their home Red Bull Arena from its current owners, subject to planning permission for an expansion of the current 42,000 capacity to 57,000. Six of Leipzig's seven home games this season have been sold-out.
As to the immediate plan for the rest of the campaign, the ostensible target was and remains a "trouble-free" season. On that score they can probably rest easy, given the last team to be automatically relegated with 36 points were Arminia Bielefeld, back in 2003. That, of course, was after 34 games as opposed to only 16. Leipzig are not even half-way there yet.