Limp Leipzig steal point from future coach as Champions League race opens up | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 25.02.2019
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Limp Leipzig steal point from future coach as Champions League race opens up

A late Willi Orban goal denied Julian Nagelsmann's Hoffenheim a win over his future club RB Leipzig. But with the absent Timo Werner's future unclear, Leipzig's blunt display may eventually concern the young head coach.

Strange as it sounds, a loss on Monday night would've left Julian Nagelsmann pretty confident of another crack at the Champions League next season. But as it is, a 1-1 draw between his current side Hoffenheim and the club that will employ him next season, RB Leipzig, keeps the battle for the Bundesliga's last two Champions League spots open.

The bad news started early for Leipzig, with Timo Werner deemed too ill to play ahead of the match and things got worse in the opening exchanges, with the home side limp, passive and chanceless in the first half. Their visitors sensed blood early on and got their reward after 22 minutes when Joelinton's persistence earnt him a shot that Peter Gulacsi pushed in to the path of Andrej Kramaric.

Joelinton impressing at home and abroad

The man who created the opener had been the subject of almost as much pre match chat as his coach. After an impressive debut Bundesliga campiagn so far, bustling Brazilian forward Joelinton has been linked with a €50 million move to Premier League side Newcastle and with following his coach east to the Red Bull Arena.

"It doesn't matter, even if the fee is a bit below that," said current RB boss Ralf Rangnick, who will revert to the sporting director role at the end of the season. "We will never be a club who can afford such players. It amused me a bit in these past days, reading this and also being linked to the player.

"He is a great player but there are more great players - at Hoffenheim and at other teams in the Bundesliga"

Nagelsmann will know what he's signing up for at the Red Bulls, who have a clear policy of buying young and low and selling high. With Werner set to be sold this summer if he doesn't sign a new contract, Yussuf Poulsen having an off night, Jean-Kevin Augustin's future unclear and Cunha seemingly bereft of confidence, finding a top class finisher may be high on his list of priorities on arrival.

The fact center back Willi Orban, who turned in the 89th minute equalizer, was Leipzig's biggest threat tells its own story.

Battle on for last two places

The kind of targets Lepizig can attract will depend not just on their financial resources, but on their participation in the Champions League. Three points on Monday would have sent the Red Bulls third, seven points clear of fifth but the draw means just six points separate Leipzig in fourth and Bayer Leverkusen down in seventh. Hoffenheim are two points further back but can't be written off after a late surge in the the Champions League spots last term. 

All is not lost of course, with the inconsistency of those below Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund ensuring that the race for the two remaining Champions League places is unlikely to be dull.

Nagelsmann's prompting from the sidelines and fury at a couple of refereeing decisions were clear evidence that his mind and heart remains with Hoffenheim for now. But with a mind as analytical as his, there's little doubt he'll also be aware of the flaws he's soon to inherit. 

 

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