Leipzig scouting report: Table-toppers in irresistible form
New head coach Julian Nagelsmann and the prolific Timo Werner have played a major role in Leipzig’s success this season.
Julian Nagelsmann could hardly have wished for a better start to his first season as Leipzig boss, guiding the club to four wins and a draw in their opening five league matches. They failed to win any of the next four games (D2 L2) in their only slump of the campaign so far, but after losing 2-1 at Freiburg on Matchday 9, the east German side responded magnificently with eight wins and a draw against Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 16. Title contenders Leipzig are not only setting the pace in the Bundesliga, but they have also reached the last 16 of both the DFB Cup and the UEFA Champions League.
Nagelsmann generally sets Leipzig up in a 4-4-2 formation, although he opted for a 4-2-3-1 system against Union Berlin last weekend. Their attack – the strongest in the league with 51 goals – is particularly variable, with Christopher Nkunku, Marcel Sabitzer, Timo Werner and Patrik Schick all appearing up front in recent games. In players such as Emil Forsberg and Yussuf Poulsen, Nagelsmann also has several other options at his disposal.
The league leaders are just as flexible from a tactical perspective, changing their approach as the scoreline or situation demands. Sometimes they press high up the field in order to disrupt their opponents’ build-up, while at other times they sit back and draw in the opposition. Nagelsmann’s side are dangerous on the counter-attack, but they are just as capable of building possession patiently until gaps appear in the other team’s defence.
One to watch: Timo Werner
Werner will equal a long-standing record held by Gerd Müller if he finds the net against Eintracht on Saturday. No player has managed to score 21 goals in the first 19 games of a Bundesliga campaign since Müller did so in 1972/73. Werner currently sits top of the goalscoring charts alongside Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski, with 20 goals from 18 matches.
S.S. Lazio striker Ciro Immobile is the only player in Europe’s top five leagues to score more league goals than the Germany international this season (23). A versatile forward, Werner frequently uses his blistering pace to attack from a wide position. Sometimes, however, he adopts a more central role, demanding the ball in the middle of the park before laying it off to one of his team-mates.