BERLIN – Promoted RB Leipzig will look to complete a sensational year with victory at champions Bayern Munich on Wednesday as they eye top spot in the Bundesliga going into the winter break.
Big-spending Leipzig, who raced through the divisions after energy drinks maker Red Bull took over an unknown amateur club in 2009, are second on goal difference behind the champions, with both teams on 36 points.
The game in Munich is the first between the two sides in the Bundesliga but newcomers Leipzig have shown no signs of stage fright.
“We cannot play for anything else but victory,” Leipzig sports director Ralf Rangnick said. “We are going to Munich and, if possible, get the three points.
“You cannot be more ambitious than that going into this game.”
Leipzig every right to dream big after a stellar start with 11 wins and only one defeat in league 15 matches.
This is not the first time Rangnick has challenged Bayern’s domestic dominance, with his then team Hoffenheim, also top-flight newcomers at the time, topping the league at the halfway mark in 2008 before imploding after the winter break.
This time, however, Rangnick’s squad is far stronger.
A trademark aggressive and quick game has brought them only four goals fewer than Bayern, who have lost some of their usual pace this season under coach Carlo Ancelotti.
“When you play against Real, Barcelona and Manchester United then you are also well prepared to face Raseballsport (Grassball sport),” said Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in reference to their opponents’ official league name.
“That’s what they are called isn’t it?,” he said with a grin as Leipzig are not allowed to use the name Red Bull due to league restrictions.
The East German club have angered thousands of German fans with their rapid, cash-fuelled rise and ownership structure.
But they are among the most exciting teams this season with talented Germany international Timo Werner having netted nine times and Emil Forsberg setting up a league-topping eight goals and scoring another five.
Bayern struggled in their 1-0 win over Darmstadt 98 on Sunday but are expected to have wingers Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery back in the starting line-up.
“It will be an extremely difficult game for us,” said Bayern defender Mats Hummels. “I do not think that a decent performance from us will be enough against such a Leipzig team.”