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Leipzig go top of the Bundesliga

November 18, 2016

Another week, another hurdle cleared by RB Leipzig. The Bundesliga's most reviled club stun Bayer Leverkusen to go top of the table, as the club takes another brave step into the unknown.

Bundesliga Leverkusen gegen leipzig
Image: Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Grimm

Bayer Leverkusen 2-3 RB Leipzig
Kampl 1', Brandt 45'+2 - Baumgartlinger og 4'
Forsberg 67', Orban 81'

With every passing week, RB Leipzig prove a few more doubters wrong.

Bayer Leverkusen have gone the same way as Borussia Dortmund, another Champions League team who had no answer to Leipzig's swashbuckling style and seemingly unbreakable team spirit.

Twice Leipzig found themselves behind, but twice they dug deep to fight back. And nine minutes from the end, the Bundesliga's most reviled club seized the moment to notch up an eighth win of the season; one which sends them top of the table.

Bayern Munich will need no extra motivation to beat Borussia Dortmund on Saturday, but the very notion that Leipzig would be putting the champions under the greatest pressure in their debut Bundesliga season was unthinkable three months ago. If things continue, we may just be looking at the biggest shake-up to the top order of German football we've seen since Kaiserslautern's stunning Bundesliga title in 1997/98, achieved straight after promotion from the second tier.

Leipzig's momentum will surely slow, they'll be found out and will run out of steam just when things get serious. Or will they? These were the very same assumptions made about Leicester City last season, who showed they could keep the pace until the very end. Could we be about to see something similar in Germany? Bayern's long-standing grip on the league still makes that a very tall order, and normal service will probably be restored in the coming weeks or months, but RB Leipzig must be taken seriously for a top four place.

While football's romantics would distance themselves from any comparison between Leipzig and Leicester, whose Premier League triumph was the greatest football story ever told, there are some inescapable similarities: the never-say-die attitude and resilient mentality, the commitment to defending resolutely, and the ruthless attacking quality.

Bundesliga Leverkusen gegen Leipzig
Leipzig's Timo Werner has been one of the team's best performers.Image: Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Grimm

Leipzig needed to draw on all of those strengths here, going a goal down inside a minute when Kevin Kampl tapped in at the far post. A Julian Baumgartlinger own goal pulled them level three minutes later, but the impressive Julian Brandt scored a fine goal to give Leverkusen a psychological advantage heading in at the break.

But a missed penalty by Hakan Calhanoglu saw the pendulum swing back Leipzig's way, with the impressive Emil Fosberg leading the charge with a goal and an assist. The Swede scored a screamer to make it 2-2 – with question marks over Bernd Leno's goalkeeping – before Willi Orban nodded in a late winner.

The most encouraging aspect of the victory for the Bundesliga newcomers is that they won without playing their best but showed a mental resilience that Leverkusen couldn't live with, sentiments echoed by coach Ralf Hasenhüttl at the whistle.

"It's not only that we scored the late winner, it's all about our mentality," Hasenhüttl told Sky Sports.

"At half time we had a great discussion in the dressing room and said we can win this game. Even if Leverkusen had scored the penalty, we would have come back. We have such a strong mentality.

"We made many mistakes in the first half, but I told them this happens in football, we go on. I had to give them some support and we had to fight against an iceberg in the second half, but showing such a great attitude was crucial and most satisfying for me."

While Leverkusen reflect on another result that got away, Leipzig continue to rock the Bundesliga to its core. The question is: how long can they keep this up?