In their first competitive match outside of Germany, RB Leipzig received a reception worthy of the occasion. But their loss leaves them with only a fighting chance of qualification and possibly without their star man.
Besiktas 2-0 RB Leipzig
(Babel 11', Taliscia 43')
In the end, RB Leipzig’s first competitive match outside of Germany wasn’t the celebration their fans had hoped for. A 2-0 defeat in Istanbul, to reigning Turkish champions Besiktas, was made worse by the sight of Timo Werner leaving the field early into the match with reported circulatory problems.
A typically hostile atmosphere had the guests rattled in the opening minutes and it wasn’t long before the Germans found themselves behind. Ryan Babel diverted a low, awkward cross beyond Peter Gulacsi in the eleventh minute; his fifth goal of the season sending the home fans into raptures.
To compound things, Naby Keita and Willi Orban were both booked in the opening twenty minutes; far earlier than RB Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhüttl could have been comfortable with. Werner’s exit shortly after added to a frustrating opening quarter.
Whether it was inexperience at this level or simply the quality of a Besiktas team containing two reigning European Championship winners, RB Leipzig only managed to impress in flashes. Two minutes from the break, Talisca met a Ricardo Quaresma cross to double the host’s lead. That was all the scoring Besiktas managed on a difficult evening for Leipzig.
Only 250 Leipzig fans were in attendance at Vodafone Park, owing to frayed political tensions between Turkey and Germany rather than a lack of fan interest. It will be interesting, in the reverse fixture, to find out if Leipzig fans can create the kind of atmosphere they were met with in Istanbul.
The result leaves Leipzig bottom of UEFA Champions League Group G, with one point from their opening two games. Porto’s visit to the Red Bull Arena on October 17 is now more crucial than ever. Win, and the club can move into second place and a qualification spot. Lose, and it’s surely too much to expect further fixtures in this competition in 2018.