Bundesliga Zeitung, by Andy Wales.
As this season began, questions were being asked of Julian Nagelsmann and his move to Bayern München.
Doubts were cast over him being the right man to succeed Hansi Flick. Much of it stemmed from a poor pre-season where the Bavarian giants looked out of sorts and suffered uncharacteristic defeats.
An unconvincing start to the campaign, performance wise, did little to erase the doubts over Nagelsmann at Bayern. In turn, his successor at Leipzig, Jesse Marsch, was finding life even more difficult.
So, as we went into the two clubs going head-to-head a couple of weeks ago, the narratives were fascinating. In addition to Nagelsmann facing his former employers, there was also the ex-factor of Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer.
The match itself wasn’t a patch on the classic that Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen put on, it was an intriguing contest. For all that Leipzig competed, Bayern were able to step up a gear when it counted.
Yes, it can be argued the 4-1 scoreline was harsh on Leipzig, and probably was. However, the gulf in class between the two sides is undisputed and was only emphasised in the key moments of the game.
Whilst it’s definitely too early to say that Nagelsmann has answered all the questions around him, he is moving in the right direction. This was further evidenced when Bayern began their Champions League campaign against Barcelona.
Of course, Barcelona are now a shadow of the all-conquering side they once were, but Bayern obliterated them. Perhaps not in the final score-line, but certainly in performance. Bayern looked every bit potential winners.
The nucleus of the side hasn’t changed. Importantly though, any issues Nagelsmann may have had getting his ideas across in the summer look to be resolved.
Indeed, Bayern showcased just how hungry and ruthless they are this past week. There was no let-up after European excursions as they smashed poor VfL Bochum 7-0, following that up with a 3-1 win at Greuther Fürth on Friday night.
Back at the top of the Bundesliga, a win in their opening Champions League group game and the goals are flowing; life in Munich is good for Nagelsmann.
Julian Nagelsmann arriving in training today [📸 fcb] pic.twitter.com/1uJ8Cu0H2C
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) September 23, 2021
The same cannot be said of Marsch at Leipzig. He’d made such a name for himself at sister club Salzburg that expectations were high. Indeed, his name had been linked with other Bundesliga jobs before his appointment at Leipzig.
His style, approach and time at Salzburg meant the move was seen as a natural progression for Marsch. A seamless transition that would be ideal for Leipzig, especially after losing Nagelsmann.
The fact that the transition has been far from seamless is more than simply a coaching change. The team has lost its two best defenders in Konate and Upamecano. Also gone is the quality and experience of Sabitzer from the key area of midfield.
As always, Leipzig have promising players to replace them, but tomorrow can sometimes seem some way off. Having the goals of Andre Silva should certainly help but a title challenge requires more than that.
It would be sensible to suggest that this will be a season of transition for the energy drink’s German franchise. However, as Derek Rae pointed out on Twitter, sporting director Mintzlaff expected more. Specifically, after Nagelsmann’s departure to Bayern, he said “Julian should feel our presence”.
It’s easy to point out that lower mid-table is far from making their presence felt. A fairer assessment would be to ask if a title challenge for Leipzig was ever realistic this campaign.
I certainly didn’t feel it was feasible pre-season and did wonder if they might even miss out on top four this season.
However, none of these circumstances mean the pressure isn’t beginning to build on Marsch. Whether or not you deem it to be fair, questions are being asked and his future will invariably be under discussion if results do not improve.
Such pressure is the nature of the job and as much as Leipzig are unlikely to want to make a change, their hand will be forced if poor results persist. The next few weeks could be key to Marsch turning results around.
A home game with Hertha this weekend is quickly followed by hosting Club Brugge in the Champions League. Then it’s newly-promoted Bochum, followed by the tricky test of Freiburg before going to Paris to face PSG.
It’s then onto Bundesliga whipping-boys Greuther Fürth, which means there’s a real opportunity for Marsch to get a few wins under his belt.
The target has to be to win at least three of those six, ideally five, and then see where things lie.
Most attention this weekend will naturally be on Marco Rose and the “battle of the Borussia’s” this weekend. However, Leipzig v Hertha could prove to be a more defining 90 minutes in the future of one Bundesliga club and its club.