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Jesse Marsch has started to get his ideas across and his side could register another victory at home, this time against opponents who remain shaky at the back.
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It was never going to be easy for RB Leipzig to replace Julian Nagelsmann. The 34-year-old vacated his position as their manager at the end of last season to take up the reins at Bayern Munich. He has wasted little time in putting his own stamp on the German champions, who continue to impress at home and on the continent. In his place at the Red Bull Arena came Jesse Marsch, but it was not an overly smooth transition in the opening weeks of the campaign.
RB Leipzig are one of the most well-run clubs in Europe. They have a defined way of doing things and have never been reliant on a single manager. Marsch is the fourth man to take charge of Leipzig since 2016; coaches come and go but the underlying principles remain the same. Marsch, a former United States international from Wisconsin, was already well versed in the Red Bull way of working owing to his time as manager of the New York Red Bulls and Red Bull Salzburg.
Still, every coach has his own ideas and Marsch’s are subtly different to those of Nagelsmann. After their promotion to the Bundesliga five years ago, Leipzig was known primarily as a high-energy pressing team that thrived in transition. During his two seasons in charge, Nagelsmann made Leipzig more possession-based, but Marsch has shifted back towards the club’s roots this term. Leipzig averaged 60 percent possession in 2020/21, second only to Bayern. That figure is down to 56.3 percent this season, only the fourth-highest in the division.
There were some teething problems early on but recent performances suggest Leipzig are beginning to click into gear. A creditable 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday came on the back of a six-game unbeaten run in the Bundesliga. Leipzig are a force to be reckoned with once more.
Borussia Dortmund did not have such a happy time of it on matchday four of the Champions League. Marco Rose’s men had suffered a 4-0 thrashing by Ajax last month and were out to avenge that defeat on Wednesday. Instead, the Dutch champions ran out 3-1 winners at Signal Iduna Park, leaving BVB with plenty of work to do to qualify for the knockout stage.
The red card shown to Mats Hummels after half an hour was the turning point. Dortmund were always going to struggle after that. They actually exceeded expectations by holding a 1-0 lead until the 72nd minute, but Ajax’s numerical advantage eventually told. Yet while there is no shame in losing 3-1 to a quality team who had the benefit of an extra man, there is still good reason to doubt Dortmund’s ability to shut out Leipzig this weekend.
Rose’s side have conceded 15 goals in 10 Bundesliga matches this term. There have been signs of late that BVB are beginning to tighten up: they kept a clean sheet against Koln last weekend and previously shipped just one goal each to Arminia Bielefeld, Mainz and Augsburg. Yet as the double-header against Ajax showed, Dortmund remain vulnerable when they face teams who can take the ball away from them. Leipzig have the quality to do that this weekend, so more defensive slackness could prove costly for BVB.
After winning only one of their first five games of the season, Leipzig have now triumphed in three of their last five. At present there is a clear split between their home and away form. Leipzig lost 4-1 at home to Bayern Munich in September but have otherwise been perfect on their own patch. Marsch’s men have notched 18 goals in their five games at the Red Bull Arena and caused PSG numerous problems there on Wednesday.
By contrast Dortmund’s away form has been patchy, with two wins and two draws so far. Their defense will come under huge pressure from a Leipzig team that must be full of confidence after their strong recent run. And BVB must try and pick up a positive result without the injured Erling Haaland, a world-class striker who has the ability to find the back of the net even when his team are not playing particularly well.
Aside from the aforementioned loss to Bayern, Leipzig’s results at home in 2021/22 read: 4-0, 6-0, 3-0 and 4-1. Marsch would no doubt settle for a much narrower victory this weekend, when his team have the chance to make a real statement of intent against Dortmund. Back a home win in this one.
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|RB Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund Information|
|Teams||RB Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund|
|Location||Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany|
|Time||Saturday, 6 November 2021, 13.30 PM EDT|
|How to watch||ESPN|
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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