Giving more importance to the tactics of this beautiful game is the main motive of this website and in doing so, it is important to give full credits to the best club which has performed exceptionally well including tactics and all aspects of the game throughout the whole season on a consistent basis. This piece is about RB Leipzig whom we think is the best Bundesliga Club for the season 2016/17.
RB Leipzig’s story has been revisited a lot in recent times. This season, they have been the talk of everyone’s footballing conversations over the last season. RB Leipzig have been on the constant up ever since Red Bull took over them back in 2009. Fast forward seven years, RB Leipzig find themselves in the first division of German football. In this space of seven years, Leipzig have enjoyed five promotions. This consistency is nothing short of mind boggling as the club has never taken a step back since the takeover.
RasenballSport Leipzig, as they are called, enjoyed a brilliant season last year. Due to the rule in Germany that the club should not be named after the sponsor, RB Leipzig do not correspond to a Red Bull Leipzig like their sister club Red Bull Salzburg back in Austria. With a budget that enabled them to get a more than decent squad, Leipzig have emerged successful under Ralph Hasenhuttl. Hasenhuttl’s appointment is a very crucial cog in this saga as the coach has implemented small but extremely effective changes to the pressing model established by Roger Schmidt back in his time at the club when they played in the second and third tiers of German football.
Made using TacticalPad
Playing in a 4-2-2-2 set up, Leipzig are a pressing powerhouse. The main strategy is to enforce controlled turnovers by making use of proper press triggers that would allow them to have a positive effect while breaking forward from the turnovers. Their squad quality is well above average for the Bundesliga and boy did they not make use of it well. Their 4-2-2-2 saw Halstenberg, Comper, Orban and Bernardo form the backline.
Naby Keita and Diego Demme were the pivots. This combination would especially be crucial in Leipzig’s successes throughout the season with their variability and ability to complement each other. The inside forwards are Emil Forsberg and Marcel Sabitzer who do not necessarily function as wingers and are very crucial in providing the team with the necessary creativity in the final third.
The two strikers are Timo Werner and Yousuf Poulsen. While Werner is more than willing to make selfless runs and chase the ball, Swiss international Poulsen uses his physicality and presence to win air balls and lays it off to Werner. The two strikers complement each other well and are also well equipped to press the opposition backline well.
Pressing scheme and defending by pressing:
The reason why Leipzig have a successful model with their pressing is that they do not go all out on the opposition and have a stable structure to implement controlled turnovers. This is done by the use of clever pressing traps. The primary job of the strikers is to cover the opposing team’s pivote. The passing lane is blocked and the defenders are allowed to have the ball without much pressure.
Once the play is directed to the wings, the inside forwards move to press the full back who has the ball. The ball near midfielder follows suit and covers for the inside forward who has vacated his space. The ball near striker helps in contributing a numerical advantage and also blocks the passing lane to the pivot while doing so while the other striker sticks on to the pivot.
His job here is to also make sure that any back pass to the center backs is pressed vigorously. With the numerical advantage established and also a stable platform further down, Leipzig have the necessary structure to force turnovers while also make sure that they can do it in a controlled manner.
This is the general pressing scheme adopted by Leipzig when in their 4-2-2-2 shape
Leipzig also have a strategy to enforce disorder by crowding the ball local areas. High density can induce long balls from the opposition from which they can recover the second balls easily. This is a very important feature of Leipzig as they need to win the second ball in situations where they force disorder. In order to optimally do this, they have their central midfielders cover a lot of ground. This is done intelligently and they do this with a particular robustness.
Leipzig did not have a particular defensive system separately and a lot of their success depended on how they pressed. Both their phases and transitions depended on how they pressed and won the ball back. They were never a team to sit back and absorb the pressure and instead preferred to win the ball back high up the pitch. This paid them rich dividends and ensured that the ball stayed far away from their goal.
Leipzig’s football is sometimes a thing of beauty to watch when they attack while it is just a lot of randomness at other times. Their attacking play revolves around the fact that they make use of dynamic positioning and dribbling from their players to break open the opposition. Werner and Poulsen show a lot of movement off the ball. Poulsen looks to lay off balls to Werner who gets on the end of them. Sabitzer and Forsberg are the most interesting characters in this phase as they look to drift inside to create overloads. Couple this with the advanced runs made by Keita from midfield (both with and without the ball), Leipzig have a numerical advantage in the center of the pitch.
The wings are not neglected and this is where the advancing full backs make their presence felt by occupying the wide positions that are vacated by Sabitzer or Forsberg on either side. Another interesting feature in Leipzig’s build up and attack is Naby Keita. Keita is a brilliant carrier of the ball and is capable of bringing the ball out in tight spaces. His presence ensures that Leipzig have an outlet when they force turnovers and in turn enforce congested situations. His dynamic vertical dribbles coupled with the passes to the centre from the centre backs are an important part of how Leipzig perform.
This video shows the variable off the ball movements from the Leipzig front men. The possibilities are intriguing and gives rise to options in the final third
RB Leipzig have confounded critics and fans alike with their impressive success throughout the season. They remained at the top of the table right until the winter break before they lost the lead to Bayern Munich. After then, they could not quite match the standards of the Bavarians but comfortably held on to the second position. The first half of the season saw them lose only two games with both being towards the end.
Eleven wins in that period of time ensured that everyone took notice of the club. For a promoted club to go on and finish second in a league only behind Bayern Munich is very impressive when you consider that they finished ahead of the likes of Borussia Dortmund is very impressive.
Tactically, Leipzig have been brilliant and Hasenhuttl must be credited for that. Their season saw the likes of Keita, Forsberg, Sabitzer and Werner all perform exceedingly well. As a unit, their structure and game play was fantastic and this article is not enough to explain their tactical breakdown over the season. However, the club has made a name for itself after having been on the receiving end of quite a bit of hate from the German fans.
This was due to the fact that they have enjoyed success after influx of cash but that is nothing wrong if they keep playing football of this quality and standard While they will need significant additions in order to cope with Champions League football next season, Leipzig surely have it in them to continue with their brilliant campaign from 2016/17. It is of no debate that RB Leipzig are Football Bloody Hell’s Bundesliga Club of the Year for the 2016/17 season.
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