Not Loved But The Next “Leicester” of World Football?
With 13 German Bundesliga league games played, this team has now won Ten matches, drawn three, lost none and is first on the league table.
The team is loved by its fans but loathed by many others and, no, we are not talking of habitual German powerhouses Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund, but Bundesliga debutants RasenBallsport Leipzig e.V. — or more commonly known as RB Leipzig.
We are in December and this Leipzig outfit is yet to taste defeat at national league level, with giants Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen among their ‘devoured’ victims so far in their steady but commanding march into the top of German and who knows maybe even perhaps European, football.
At the moment they are positioned to repeat the Cinderella story created by Leicester last year in England, to become the second club in the Bundesliga history to win the league immediately after promotion.
One would expect such a new sensation to be a success story constantly being spoken about by all, and an example most would like to emulate, but instead Leipzig is the most criticized, attacked, haunted and relatively less-covered top-class team on the league table in Germany. You must be asking why?
To understand this sentiment one has to first ask what RB Leipzig is all about and what their history is.
RB Leipzig Football club is based in Leipzig, a part of Eastern Germany. The club was founded in 2009 by an initiative of energy drink-maker Red Bull, who purchased the playing rights of the then fifth division side SSV Markranstädt, with the immediate announcement of their intention to hit the highly lucrative and competitive 1st division Bundesliga within a then unbelievable eight-year time period. Many laughed at them then, but not many are laughing anymore!
Today, seven years later they are not only one year ahead of schedule, but top of the Bundesliga first division. Not only do they have a firm grip on the No 1 spot, but they are also poised to qualify for the prestigious European Champions League.
It is worth noting that Leipzig were promoted to the first division from the fifth division having been crowned champions of every eventual higher division short of the third division. Unheard of!
Traditionally, Germany clubs at the highest level belong to the people. Unlike In England, any interested owner can only control 49 percent of a club with 51 percent belonging to the state, as clubs are obliged to be run in a certain “sane” setup to follow certain ethics and breed a people’s ownership feeling that makes the people feel that they own and indirectly determine the way the clubs are administrated.
Clubs’ ability to purchase players is limited as they have to adhere to certain guideline limitations, which is believed to be responsible for the healthy nature that all clubs enjoy. German clubs are less indebted, unlike most major leagues in the world. Almost all German clubs were founded by the people at one time or the other and thus explains why they are named after cities.
Contrary to all of the above RB Leipzig is owned by a private and capitalist company, Red Bull. They can buy any player they want, owe limited explanations to the people and are completely the opposite of the ‘status quo’ tradition that exists in Germany and their fans are not only loving it, but pushing for this ‘new way’ to spread.
This obviously does not go down well with many as it risks corrupting the values and culture that Germans rightfully hold sacred.
The club plays its home games at the “Red Bull Arena”. The naming rights were granted on 25 March 2010 and the stadium will be named so for a minimum period of 10 years (Effective from 1 July 2010).
Unlike most stadiums named after other sponsors, Red Bull Leipzig owns the naming rights of its own stadium, Message? We don’t need sponsors, we own and run everything!
In all fairness to this impressive and history making Leipzig side, they currently play some exceptionally well crafted, tactically sound, entertaining and effective football.
They boast a relatively young team with relatively unknown but talented players since the club’s philosophy is to buy and invest only in players below 24 years of age.
The reserves team and youth teams are all conditioned to follow the same style of play, philosophy and formation as the first team, thereby facilitating smooth graduation through the ranks of their assembled youth players.
Endless criticisms are being showered on the team by some club presidents and their fans, some calling them the “Plastic Club”, or the “Red Bull doped menace”.
It is fair to say Leipzig aren’t winning the popularity vote at the moment but that doesn’t seem to affect the club or players as they just keep on winning and as we know in life, eventually everyone loves a winner.
Leipzig might not only become the new “Leicester like” Cinderella story of world football, but also the darling and No 1 club in Germany or maybe even Europe.