Scouting Report: The full briefing on RB Leipzig

a:2:{s:4:"TEXT";s:223:"Bundesliga runners-up RB Leipzig bring a 2-1 lead to St. Petersburg in the last 16 of the Europa League. We ask German Zenit fan John Reppschlager, to take a look at our opponents before the second leg.";s:4:"TYPE";s:4:"HTML";}
a:2:{s:4:"TEXT";s:4725:"The German club from the eastern city of Leipzig was only found in 2009 when Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, took over SSV Markranstadt. From then on RB Leipzig made their way quickly up the leagues, reaching promoting to the Bundesliga in 2016 and attracting a lot of fans on their way. They even finished second in their first ever Bundesliga season. 

Their sponsor Red Bull's money helped to make them that successful, while also being the reason the club, the players and their fans experience a lot of hate in Germany, however that should not take away the fact that the director Ralf Rangnick made an incredible job scouting their players, with most of them being 23-years-old or younger. 

Now, ten months after that enormous first season success RB are experiencing some tougher times in the current season. They finished 3rd in their Champions League group, are currently in 6th position in the Bundesliga and out of the German Cup. The young team has struggled lately, losing three games in a row against Frankfurt, Neapel and Koln, followed by two draws against Dortmund and Stuttgart. The Team is experiencng a lot of pressure in the league table right now because they again want to qualify for the Champions League and heavy rotation is not an option.

Their head coach, Ralph Hasenhuttl, is known for his calm attitude in press conferences and his fast and aggressive style of play, the former-Hamburg boss Markus Gisdol once jokingly said that you have to be careful on the pitch not to catch a cold with the Leipzig players running around you that fast for 90 minutes. Hasenhuttl also relies heavily on mentality and fitness and has developed a lot of lesser-known footballers into key players. 

Timo Werner is a fine example of Hasenhuttl eye for a player. Their top striker joined from Stuttgart in 2016 and Werner has grown up rapidly to become one of the best strikers in the league since coming to Leipzig. He is now a German international, having scored 38 goals with 12 assists in 66 games for RB, compared to his 14 goals and 11 assists in 103 games for Stuttgart. Werner has scored 17 goals in all competitions this season with 5 assists already. After a five game streak of not scoring, he unfortunately had a great match in the first leg against our team, scoring one and assisting another. He will be the main man to cover in St. Petersburg.

RB Leipzig mainly play with a 4-4-2 formation but have switched it up quite a few times this season to play a 4-3-3 formation with players like Bruma, Augustin and Werner being able to play either as a main striker or out on the wing. These players are also rotating a lot on the pitch as we could see in the first leg, our defense need to be on top of their game to contain the abilities of these players. Only Yussuf Poulsen is a true number 9 for RB Leipzig. 

Their midfield is dominated by the five players Emil Forsberg, Marcel Sabitzer, Kevin Kampl, Nabi Keita and Diego Demme, with Forsberg, Sabitzer and Kampl being the more attacking options and Keita and Demme being your modern box-to-box midfielders. Slovenian International Kevin Kampl missed the first leg due to an injury but looks to be ready for the match in St. Petersburg. 

Keita is experiencing his last season at Leipzig as Liverpool have already took the chance on the player and have paid his release clause and he'll be joining them in the summer. Keita will then become one of the leagues most expensive ever transfers with the Merseysiders paying around €80 million for his services. 

This season they've scored a solid 38 goals in the League so far and their defense seems mediocre at best, having conceded 34. With the club captain Willi Orban being the oldest defender at just 25-years-old, this lack of experience seems to have cost them a few points this season. Although they might have conceded a few too many goals, their first choice goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi takes no blame at all since he again has been rock solid this season for RB.

Although Zenit need to score, Criscito's away goal was important and sets the tone for the second leg, every Leipzig fan I?ve met and every German journalist is aware of how things can go crazy at the Krestovsky. I'm expecting a thrilling match in St. Petersburg for the blue-white-sky blues.

Thanks to John Reppschlager for the artcile, he runs a Zenit fan club in his hometown of Lubeck, if you're in that part of the world be sure to check them out.