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RB Leipzig made light work of Augsburg
Rafal Gikiewicz cuts a frustrated figure after being beaten from the spotImage: Annegret Hilse/REUTERS

RB Leipzig handle Augsburg as Upamecano news breaks

February 12, 2021

RB Leipzig got the better of Augsburg at the start of matchday 21 in the Bundesliga, but it was news about one of their players off the field that made headlines.


RB Leipzig 2-1 Augsburg, Red Bull Arena
(Olmo pen. 38', Nkunku 43' — Caligiuri 76' pen.)

While RB Leipzig were beating Augsburg, they were losing more ground in the Bundesliga.

Midway through the first half, the news broke that the club's star defender Dayot Upamecano would be joining Bayern Munich on a five-year deal next season after the defending champions agreed to pay his €42.5 million ($51.5m) release clause.

While the 22-year-old's departure is not surprising, it is a blow to Leipzig's ambition. If there is one team that currently looks capable of challenging Bayern domestically, they are it. Moves like this though, make an already uphill battle that little bit steeper.

Without Upamecano — rested ahead of the upcoming Champions League game against Liverpool — RB Leipzig dealt with Augsburg. Rafal Gikiewicz saved a penalty but stepped off the line in the process, allowing Dani Olmo a second chance. Christopher Nkunku caressed in a second after lovely work by Yussuf Poulsen, ending a chippy first half.

Despite an injury-time scramble in the box, Augsburg weren't able to add to Daniel Caligiuri's consolation penalty. 

Dani Olmo needed a second penalty to beat Rafal Gikiewicz
RB Leipzig got the win expected of them against AugsburgImage: Annegret Hilse/REUTERS

Now or not long for Nagelsmann?

RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann turns 34 this summer. He has already managed 171 games in the Bundesliga and 22 in the Champions League. In 77 games in charge of RB, he has average over two points per game. But the only thing he has won in his career so far is the U19 Bundesliga title with Hoffenheim back in 2014.

His age means his there's no rush, but his experience adds pressure. It leaves Nagelsmann's career feeling like it still hasn't really taken off yet. He took Hoffenheim into Europe and Leipzig to a Champions League semifinal, but these were more milestones than peaks for a self-proclaimed ambitious coach. 

Nagelsmann has a keen tactical mind, a bold fashion sense and a big voice on the sidelines, but how much longer before he ends a season with more than a lot of games won?

Julian Nagelsmann in a suit
Julian Nagelsmann is a man who cares about what he wearsImage: Andrew Yates/Newscom/picture alliance

The end of this season might be the answer. The Bundesliga aside (the gap looks too big at this point), if they can overcome Wolfsburg, a spot in the German Cup semifinals beckons. And in Europe, despite the location chaos, they face an out-of-sorts Liverpool.

A trophy overdue?

Given the unique financial and structural advantages Nagelsmann enjoys at his current club, it would almost be a startling failure not to win anything.

According to data from the CIES football observatory, RB Leipzig's transfer balance during the last 10 transfer windows is -€176m. At full-time on Friday night, they confirmed that Manchester City loanee Angelino had signed a permanent deal. RB are spending like a team challenging for a trophy but with nothing to show for it yet but a bad balance.

Upamecano's departure might help balance the books but it won't further the club's - or Nagelsmann's - quest for the Bundesliga title.

The record-breaking coach looks happy to take his time - for now. And given the comfort and control he has at RB Leipzig, who can blame him? Having built his reputation at clubs full of technology, short on history and high on innovation, Nagelsmann's career path is clear.

His next move will likely see him step outside of his comfort zone. Perhaps that time is still a way off, but after another victory on the pitch was accompanied by what must feel like a defeat off it, perhaps not.