RB Leipzig: Watch out Europe, here we come! | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 10.05.2017
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RB Leipzig: Watch out Europe, here we come!

RB Leipzig have made history by qualifying for the Champions League in their first season in the Bundesliga. As if that were not enough, the upstarts are now planning for their next coup - a victory over Bayern Munich.

The biggest success in the club's history was cause for lavish celebration. Some of the players even flew to Mallorca to do so. However, on Wednesday it was back to business - and preparations for Saturday's big game against Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, when RB Leipzig are hoping to "get a result" as coach Ralph Hasenhüttl put it.

"We want to show that we are competitive at a high level," Hasenhüttl said after his team's 4-1 win over Hertha Berlin.

In terms of the standings, Saturday's game is about securing second place, which RB would clinch with a victory.

Leipzig managing director Oliver Mintzlaff knows that the last home game of the season will be a "football fest, just like the 16 others before it."

RB have unleashed a great deal of euphoria in this city, which had gone without top level football for such a long time. All of their home games so far have been sold out, as is Saturday's game against the team who have won more German titles than any other.

Well prepared for further development

RB Leipzig have enriched the Bundesliga in their very first season in the top flight. Having qualified for Europe's most prestigious club competition, Leipzig are now about to take the next step in their development. This may come earlier than expected, but it hasn't caught the club's management unprepared. Ever since Ralf Rangnick was brought in as the club's sporting director in 2012, the club has pursued a clear strategy.

There is no question that through the financial support of Red Bull, Leipzig have more means at their disposal than many other clubs. However, they invest the money they have wisely, instead of throwing it out of the window like some clubs, who indulge in basking in their long traditions, while at best languishing behind Leipzig in the standings, or the lower divisions.

Youth at the forefront

From the very start of the Leipzig project, a big part of the plan was bringing in young players who are hungry for success. These have been signed in large numbers in recent years, making RB Leipzig one of the youngest players in the Bundesliga. The average age of the players who took to the pitch in Berlin was 23.9 years old.

"We have grown together as a team that plays football at a very high level," midfielder Diego Demme said.

It is this team spirit that has helped Leipzig players in their development. The best example of this is Timo Werner. The 21-year-old moved east from Stuttgart after they were relegated at the end of last season. Now he is the first RB player to earn a call up to the national team and with 19 goals is the most successful German striker in the Bundesliga.

1. Bundesliga 32. Spieltag | Hertha BSC - RB Leipzig - tor 0:1 (Getty Images/Bongarts/B. Streubel)

Called up to the national team: Timo Werner joined Leipzig after Stuttgart were relegated at the end of last season

Sensible transfers

Despite the added strain of the Champions League to deal with in the coming season, Leipzig are determined to not to deviate from their chosen path.

"We don't plan on doing anything crazy," Mintzlaff stressed. "We have set ourselves boundaries within which we plan to stay as we continue along our path of development."

The idea is for the team to continue to grow as a unit. The earnings of the player will increase commensurate with their achievements as the season draws to a close, but a number of stars will also earn more in the future. Overall the level of the club's salaries will rise, but high-priced transfers remain a taboo in Leipzig, as their latest signing demonstrates. Instead of going for the internationally experienced goalkeeper, Bernd Leno, Leipzig have spent five million euros ($5.43 million) to bringin Yvon Mvogo from Young Boys Bern for the coming season. However, the greatest pool of potential future stars is already at the club. RB Leipzig have a total of 12 players in Germany's national teams from the under-15 to under-21 level.

Complying with UEFA's demands

However, it is not just the team, but the entire club that will have to meet higher demands beginning next season, and for weeks now, management have been working on preparations for their first season in European competition.

Ausrüster der Bundesliga 16/17 RB Leipzig - Ralf Rangnick - Red Bull (picture-alliance/dpa/J. Woitas)

The brains behind the project: sporting director Ralf Rangnick

"We will probably have to work all through the summer," Mintzlaff said.

This is because they now they will have to comply with some key requirements set out by UEFA. It's requirement that Leipzig provide facilities for 1,700 VIPs is easy enough to fulfill - by setting them up in a tent. However, the European governing body also has grave concerns about something else - RB Leipzig's extremely cozy ties to Red Bull Salzburg.

Article 5 of the Champions League regulations states that: "no individual or legal entity may have control or influence over more than one club participating in a UEFA club competition."

Leipzig have already take their first steps to ensure meet this requirement, but more could follow should the Austrian Bundesliga champions also qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.

No matter how that turns out, Leipzig is bound to remain a fascinating football project for many years to come.

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