RB Leipzig have taken the Bundesliga by storm. Unbeaten after 10 games, they are level on points with champions Bayern Munich. But can they go all the way? The opinion of two of DW's Bundesliga reporters is split.
The squads and the style
DW's Matt Pearson: Bayern Munich's squad is the envy of the Bundesliga and most of Europe. Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery, Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman offer an embarrassment of riches in the wide areas and the situation is the same in the middle of the park. Only Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer have no replacements of a similar quality and both have near-exemplary injury records. The importance of such depth hasn't been apparent in the first 10 games but it'll come in to play as a long season wears on. Leipzig have some quality in reserve - record signing Oliver Burke is struggling for game time - but it's nowhere near that of the champions.
Bayern have struggled, by their own lofty standards, for fluency thus far under Carlo Ancelotti but the Italian is a wily and experienced campaigner and when his more-relaxed style clicks with the squad - and history suggests it will - they'll become a formidable force.
DW's Stefan Bienkowski: Even critics of RB Leipzig, and the nature of their existence, can't help but appreciate their squad. The 11 that tend to play week in and week out are undoubtedly the club’s most redeeming feature. The high-pressure, disciplined style of coach Ralph Hasenhüttl has perfectly complemented the gung-ho football that sporting director Ralf Ragnick has implemented at the club over the past few years.
The young, hungry and talented Timo Werner, Emil Forsberg, Naby Keita, Yussuf Poulsen and Oliver Burke are all impressive in their own right but together they form a frightening attacking line. Dortmund learned that the hard way when they lost to RB and there’s no reason to believe that Bayern won’t do the same when the sides meet in December. Add to that a defensive line that has conceded just one more goal than Bayern and it's clear they have enough ammunition to topple the champions.
MP: The Bavarians don't traditionally dip their toes in the murky water of the January transfer window, which often offers poor value and short-term solutions. Mats Hummels and Renato Sanches were the only major arrivals this summer, demonstrating the confidence the club has in the balance of a squad that's been years in the making.
For Leipzig, the temptation to splash out if they are still in the title race as the year ends could prove too much and could upset what looks like a stable setup in Germany's east.
SB: Leipzig spent something close to €50 million ($55 million) in the summer, bringing in as many talented players as they could. As well as their enviable stable of youngsters, they signed players that were a safe bet to succeed in the Bundesliga like Keita, Werner, Bernardo and Kyriakos Papadopoulos.
Although the current squad has proved more than capable, there’s no reason to suggest that it couldn’t be enhanced in the January window. Leipzig are not a traditional German club and bringing in players half way through the season may be exactly how they keep this current momentum going. The right addition, or additions, could just give them that extra kick to get over the line.
MP: Carlo Ancelotti arrived in Munich with a reputation as a Champions League specialist, as the man who could win the one trophy Pep Guardiola couldn't. But this is a man who has won titles in England, Italy and Spain and more top-flight titles than the rest of the league's bosses combined.
When the games come thick and fast and the pressure intensifies in the new year, Ralph Hasenhüttl may well find that there's no substitute for that experience.
SB: In many ways Hasenhüttl is the perfect man for Leipzig. At Ingolstadt he proved himself immensely adept at getting the best out of limited talent. He also has the tactical knowledge to take advantage of opponents and pick his moments - see Burke’s limited but effective substitute appearances this season.
But perhaps most importantly he, like Leipzig, is intent on proving himself at the highest level. Moving to his new club was never going to be popular in certain sections of German football but it’s clear that his ambition is matched by the club that employ him. That breeds confidence in a club and that can make a huge difference.
The know-how and the challenges
MP: As much as the men in the dugout need to deal with the pressure, it's the men on the pitch that really make or break a title challenge. In this respect, it's men against boys. All of the members of Bayern's squad have won titles, even Sanches lifted the Portuguese title last year. That counts.
Leipzig's exciting young side also have experience of winning but often at lower levels. Make no mistake, they are here to stay and look like they could make the Bundesliga a three-horse race. But, right now, they aren't ready for the big prize.
SB: Bayern may be more experienced than Leipzig but they also have two more hurdles to jump than their new title challengers. The first and most obvious one is European competition. This Bayern squad haven’t had to deal with a domestic challenger after January for the last three years and as such have been able to put the Bundesliga on the backburner while they focus on the Champions League. That won’t happen this season and the fatigue and injuries associated with fighting on multiple fronts will tell.
The second is the pressure that Bayern face every season. We’re already seeing Ancelotti chop and change his team from one week to the next as he searches for a winning formula. Should Bayern begin to lose games in the league then it won’t be long before the critics are hounding him and his misfiring squad.
Leipzig don’t have to deal with either of those things. Already out of the German Cup, they can focus their attention on the league campaign and don’t have the weight of expectation pulling them down - as is evident from the free-flowing football that seems to come so easily to them each and every matchday.