They ultimately fell short in the cup on Wednesday but RB Leipzig can take revenge on Bayern Munich when the two teams meet in the Bundesliga this weekend. Yet the real winners of that game could be Borussia Dortmund.
When Sven Ulreich dived low to his left to save Timo Werner's penalty and send Bayern Munich into the last-16 of the German Cup, the disappointment in the Red Bull Arena was tangible. RB Leipzig's performance, particularly in the first half, probably deserved better – but such is football.
"Leipzig haven’t really lost," declared the commentator on German broadcaster ARD. They had though. But they'll have another shot at Bayern on Saturday when the two teams meet in the Bundesliga in the standout tie on Matchday 10.
Part two of the double-header is only the fourth-ever meeting between two teams who represent two contrasting faces of German football. In the red corner, the 27-time record champions coached by legendary veteran Jupp Heynckes and one of the most storied names in world football. In the Red Bull corner, the corporate-backed newcomer which has taken the game by storm with their rapid ascent up the leagues.
Closing the gap
Yet despite suffering three defeats in three against Bayern Munich in their short history, Ralph Hasenhüttl's side is closing the gap. A comprehensive 3-0 defeat in Munich last season was followed by a dramatic final game of the season in Leipzig in which the hosts led 4-2 before ultimately collapsing to lose 5-4 late on.
But on Wednesday, they were the better side in the first half, putting Bayern under so much pressure with their trademark aggressive pressing and rapid transitions that Henyckes suffered a nose bleed and had to change his shirt. In comparison, Bayern looked tired and only came into the game once the outstanding Naby Keita had been sent off for a second yellow card.
"A game which had been fantastic for 55 minutes was destroyed in an instant," complained Hasenhüttl who believed a red card could have been avoided if referee Felix Zwayer had shown just "a little more tact." Fortunately for him, Keita's ban only applies to the cup and he will continue to cause Bayern problems again on Saturday.
Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick confronted the referee with evidence of a penalty that wasn't given
Whether Timo Werner will be fit to start is unclear. Just as he was against Borussia Dortmund two weeks ago, the German international started on the bench and, despite his typical hard work, his lack of match fitness showed in his poor spot-kick. Even without him, RB will be confident that the pace and trickery of Jean-Kevin Augustin and Emil Forsberg will give Bayern's back line enough to think about.
Unlike in the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday, Bayern will at least be able to count upon support from the stands again. The away end may have been full on Wednesday but there was little vocal encouragement for the team as Bayern's regular hardcore once again boycotted the trip to Saxony.
"The Red Bull team, for whom the city of Leipzig was chosen for economic and strategic reasons, represents the tip of the iceberg," said the ultra group "Schickeria München" ahead of their boycott of last season's league game in Leipzig. "This team exists for no other reason than to market an energy drink." As in Dortmund two weeks ago, the protests are likely to continue in Munich.
Elsewhere on Matchday 10
- Borussia Dortmund have seen their lead at the top of the Bundesliga cut from five points to three goals which, combined with a disappointing draw away at APOEL Nicosia in the Champions League, has made for a difficult fortnight for Peter Bosz's side. With Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig playing each other, three points for the Black & Yellows away at newly-promoted Hannover are vital to re-establish their position at the top.
- Bottom clubs Cologne and Werder Bremen are still without Bundesliga wins this season but both progressed in the cup in midweek. After parting company with sporting director Jörg Schmadtke, the Billy Goats will be hoping to carry that form into their league derby away at bitter rivals Bayer Leverkusen, while Werder host Augsburg.
- Following two wins in their last two Bundesliga outings, Schalke have quietly climbed to fifth in the table as Domenico Tedesco begins to stamp his identity on the side. Leon Goretzka has opened the scoring for the Royal Blues in each of their last three league games and, despite sitting out Tuesday's cup win at Wiesbaden with a muscle injury, will be looking to continue his good form against struggling Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Matchday 10 in full
Mainz vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Friday, 20:30 CET)
Hoffenheim vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Saturday, 15:30 CET)
Hertha Berlin vs. Hamburg
Schalke vs. Wolfsburg
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Cologne
Hannover vs. Borussia Dortmund
Bayern Munich vs. RasenBallsport Leipzig (Saturday, 18:30 CET)
Werder Bremen vs. Augsburg (Sunday, 15:30 CET)
Stuttgart vs. Freiburg (Sunday, 18:00 CET)