RB Leipzig midfielder Kevin Kampl has warned that both his team and their prolific attackers are only starting to fire after a tricky start to the season.
Following a 4-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund on the opening day of the Bundesliga and a defeat against Salzburg in the UEFA Europa League, Leipzig have reeled off four wins in a row in all competitions.
RB Leipzig sharing the goal-burden
“We definitely have a great attack,” Kampl told SportBild. “Almost all of our strikers have scored. This versatility makes us dangerous.”
Watch: Highlights of Leipzig's 6-0 thrashing of Nuremberg!
Since the 3-2 home loss against Salzburg, Leipzig have gone on a five-game unbeaten run – scoring 14 times and conceding just three goals. Kampl believes that the Salzburg game “shook everyone up”, and that, in a way, it was a blessing in disguise.
Turning the corner
“We have incredible quality in the team,” the 28-year-old said. “However, we conceded too many goals at the start of the season. Especially defensively, we’ve improved enormously.
“Due to the many goals we conceded at the start, we lost our timing when we were pressing. The players didn’t always know when it was worth pressing an opponent. It caused uncertainty.”
Any doubts in their approach seem to be long gone and the demolition job against Nuremburg – a game in which Kampl got the opener after three minutes – sent out a warning to the rest of the league.
However, the Slovenia international is cautious ahead of Saturday’s Matchday 8 trip to Augsburg.
'Readily accept second place'
“There’s always room for improvement, but in recent games we’ve reached the maximum in terms of overall performance,” he said.
“We would readily accept it if we can hold our current second place. But the season is only seven games old, so you can’t read too much into it. I can only warn against complacency. Things can quickly turn against you.”
Kampl and his teammates are all too aware of how tables can turn, after Ralf Rangnick and his American assistant manager Jesse Marsch introduced a punishment wheel this season for players who don’t follow club rules.
The penalties include filling in as a waterboy or cleaning out the canteen, and it sounds like it is acting as a good deterrent for the former Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen player.
'My time is precious!'
“No, hopefully that won’t happen to me,” he joked. “It would be uncomfortable to have to do something like that in front of the team.
“It’s still a funny thing - it’s about more than just fines. But I don’t want to clear my teammates’ plates or do extra office work. My time is precious, and I want to enjoy it.”
Some players have already faced sanction for being late or using their mobile phones when they’re not supposed to, and Kampl says that the wheel has helped get everyone on the same page.
“One thing is clear: we can only achieve our goals if everyone pulls together,” he said. “We know that we have what it takes to be a good team - but we all need to pull in the same direction!”