Your manager has won all six of the domestic trophies available to him and the team during his tenure to date. You don’t know it yet, but you’re just about to advance to a national cup final to give you the chance of a seventh trophy in a row under the manager. Your 21st consecutive victory in domestic cups. Again, you don’t know it yet, but your team will go to the City of Discovery and knock five goals past a Dundee side with five different scorers before the second half is four minutes old.
Your club is juggling domestic competition with playing European football. You’re visiting a side that sits a point behind 28 times title winners, ten times European Cup/Champions League final visitors, Bayern München, in a league that’s rated one of the top four in Europe. Just the eight European trophies. The only European team to have completed all available trebles, continental, domestic and European. They have a squad worth over €800m and can boast players of the ilk of Leon Goretzka, Javi Martínez, Jérôme Boateng, Niklas Süle, Sandro Wagner, Mats Hummels, Thomas Müller, James Rodriguez, Robert Lewandowski, Franck Ribéry, Manuel Neuer and Arjen Robben amongst others. Just as well you’re not playing them, right?
It’s okay though, the team you’re playing is only worth half of that, despite only being formed less than a decade ago. Your side is worth less than a quarter of them, and you field a team that you wouldn’t expect to see every week domestically, but you still expect to pick up a point, if not three. Don’t you? Do you?
In their first year in the Bundesliga, RB Leipzig finished second, qualifying for the Champions League, and it’s no secret that their incredible progression up the leagues has been financed by Red Bull.
With nothing happening in other countries for them, Red Bull began looking for a club in Germany. They could have chosen England, Italy or Spain but they decided against going to any of those countries to invest their millions. Their story began in Markranstädt, a tiny town outside of Leipzig, with roughly the same amount of residents as Port Glasgow. Red Bull wanted a way into German football in 2009, and the local club, then playing in the fifth division, caught their eye.
Red Bull are notorious for trying to elevate themselves by getting involved in sponsorship. Felix Baumgartner leaping from space anyone? Over a decade ago, they bought Austria Salzburg, and promptly renamed them FC Red Bull Salzburg, fellow Europa League opponents this season. Dominant in domestic competition, that club have never had much success in the top flight of European football. It must be different for Red Bull’s other clubs in their respective top leagues in Brazil and the US though, right?
An ego project by Dietrich Mateschitz, a co-founder of Red Bull? Absolutely. Why Leipzig? The German FA was founded there and the first German championship in 1903 was won by VfB Leipzig. The new club to rise out of their ashes, Lokomotiv Leipzig went nuts in the domestic cups in the 70s’ and 80s’ and had a stadium which was rebuilt ahead of the 2006 World Cup. Bizarrely though, they had no club playing in the Bundesliga. Mateschitz wanted success in the Champions League, similar to Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan at Manchester City, who both had the same initial idea. He guessed that he wasn’t going to be able to do this though with Salzburg so he looked further east. Red Bull looked at various clubs, including those in Düsseldorf and Hamburg. Nothing happened in either city though and nearly a decade ago, they decided that Markranstädt was the place to be.
Locals expected the soft drink giants to purchase the whole club, but it wasn’t going to happen, all they wanted was their licence for the fifth division. Ruthless bast***s. RB.
Red Bull made no secret of their ambitions, targeting a place in the Bundesliga first of all, before suggesting that winning the whole damn thing was possible “in principle”. It’s no secret that when Red Bull set up its clubs in Austria, Brazil and the US it named them after themselves, New York Red Bulls, FC Red Bull Salzburg; Red Bull Brasil. German FA legislation doesn’t allow the same, so instead, the new club were christened RasenBallsport Leipzig. RB, how convenient.
Just because they’re a reasonably new club, it doesn’t mean that they’re messing about. Earlier this year, they appointed Paul Mitchell as Head of Recruitment and Development. The same guy who’s been linked with a move to Manchester United in a similar role this week. The same Manchester United that were named the world’s most valuable club in May. Does the name ring a bell?
Southampton have swelled the coffers of Celtic in recent years. Van Dijk, Forster, Wanyama. Okay, Armstrong doesn’t count in this scenario but the man in charge of recruitment for them until he quit to go to Spurs is? Yep, you guessed it. Chuck in being credited with the signings of Sadio Mane, Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic, then you realise the guy knows what he’s doing, and thus, RB Leipzig know what they’re doing too. When he went to north London, he was instrumental in bringing players of the likes of Toby Alderweireld, Dele Alli and Kieran Trippier. Neither Red Bull or Leipzig are just playing at this.
Their transfer record sits at just under €27m. In a squad of 24 players, they have fourteen players valued at over €10m, with Timo Werner sitting on the top of the list at a snip of over €50m. You should still be able to compete though, right? Shouldn’t you?
Was there an overeaction after the defeat in Germany, both in the media and from the supporters? Two goals in four minutes, did that take the shine away from what was a reasonably decent performance? Still all to play for, with arguably the two hardest away games out of the way, would seem to make some of the flak that the team took, a tad harsh? You could argue that the result in Germany has been a conduit for the form since.
Maybe some perspective is needed? Or is it?