Even before you be given the way to Berlin, RB Leipzig were already in the mood. In the locker room at the Olympiastadion on Saturday afternoon, the coach Ralph Hasenhüttl has played his team a video compilation of their season, points out, “with the Champions League hymn at the end” as the outro music, the midfielder Diego Demme later, he told reporters.
Clearly had the desired effect. Leipzig simply overwhelmed European hopefuls Hertha Berlin, in a performance that was so finely smoothed that it was almost a caricature of their best qualities. Have and hold Pal Dardai side as demons, then sat off to save energy when they needed to – whisper, but not unlike Thomas Tuchel Borussia Dortmund’s best last season – and also went the route on occasions to give their stunned opponents something else.
Carlo Ancelotti bemoaned Bayern’s off-day 2-2 draw at Mainz draw gives RB Leipzig hope
Hertha were around, and even if Leipzig final two goals in this 4-1 win were scored in the last minute substitute Davie Selke, he was little more than a just reward for their total domination of the Hertha, who had beaten Dortmund and in a breath to do the same for Bayern Munich, already in this arena earlier in the campaign.
With the promoted side, having already secured a top-four finish, this result mathematically sealed Leipzig ticket for the group stage of the Champions League and arrived in the capital ready to party, with Hasenhüttl cinema portable, and about 10,000 on the trip to later, the festive atmosphere reached the final whistle.
The players celebrated in a giant in front of their supporters in front of them, as is now usual, a series of banners of protest at the other end of the stadium – the largest of which, set against a black background, and put them between the “gravediggers of football” – while to the south, the Bayern fans don’t forget to include a dig at RB between their signs to celebrate their last title. Does not care much after the closing of an incredible campaign.
“I don’t expect to see anyone at the training ground until Wednesday morning,” the coach said after the game, and a couple of players that have led to its word. Stefan Ilsanker, Marcel Halstenberg and Marcel Sabitzer were out on a flight to Majorca, first thing in the morning on Sunday, according to the Bild, which also reported that the star and the director Emil Forsberg has panned out to join some friends in a bachelor party in Florence.
They deserve it. Perhaps the most arresting image in the moments after the game were Hasenhüttl and Ralf Rangnick to celebrate together, and it’s very much been a team effort between the coach and the athletic director. Originally made a post for the whole Red Bull group, Rangnick is only moved to the German arm of the operation, at least in part, as the lenders put distance between Leipzig and Salzburg, with a possible clash with the Uefa and the rules relating to joint ownership of the Champions League yet to be fully negotiated.
On the sporting side, Rangnick presence was crucial. The way he built this team, a fifth of a level one less than eight years ago, of course – has heavily on his similar experiences with Hoffenheim, bringing in young players with a great future. The top-scorer Timo Werner (who scored twice), Sabitzer, Naby Keita and Forsberg has made a fundamental contribution.
Marvin Compper, which could have given Forsberg a couple of tips for the Tuscany trip, having played for the Fiorentina for the season 2013-14, connects the two eras, having played under Rangnick at Hoffenheim, and is a rare Bundesliga veteran of this team. “It is a privilege to be able to compete with the best in Europe,” the 31-year-old said after the game on Saturday, “but we have earned the privilege”.
Next week, the city face Bayern in the season’s last home game in front of a 43,000 sell-out crowd at Red Bull Arena, without the pressure to win, but only the obligation to enjoy a series of fans that are hungry for high level of calcium and drinking in every moment. “It’s another absolute highlight against the best team in Germany”, Compper, he said. “We want to finish the season with a good home game and celebrate a great party.” As they are accustomed to the reproach, it seems that the rest of Germany will have to get used to their success.
Points of discussion
• So hats off to Leipzig, but Freiburg deserve the same treatment, after a comprehensive 2-0 win over the violently inconsistent Schalke on Sunday, moved Christian Streich side in fifth position, with the Europa League qualification looking more than ever. “We played to the limit of what we can,” the coach purred after the top-scorer Florian Niederlechner brace won the game. It is often forgotten in the wake of Leipzig, with the result that it was, in reality, of Freiburg, who won the Bundesliga 2 last season, but their growth, in a fraction of the budget – it is commendable.
• There was a “mini-final” – as the Das Aktuelle Sportstudio – in North-Rhine Westphalia, as Borussia Dortmund beat Hoffenheim to leapfrog into third place and the final automatic Champions League place. It was as keenly contested as you would have expected – “an exciting game”, as the opening of the top scorer Marco Reus – Dortmund had their luck, with the goal that has allowed, despite a clear offside. In the matter of Thomas Tuchel has been the chief executive officer Hans-Joachim Watzke interview with the WAZ on the eve of the game, he has admitted to a rift between him and the coach of the rescheduling of the Champions League with the principality of Monaco, which was curiously timed before the season’s biggest games. BVB’s season could yet end in glory, with the DfB of All final, but as long as Tuchel could be about to enjoy is open to serious debate.
• A man who likes to Anthony Modeste, whose guardian for Cologne in the 4-3 thriller with Werder Bremen on Friday night, took him to 25 goals for the season. He celebrated by dancing with the club goat mascot Hennes – fortunately rather more closely to the club’s former striker Anthony Ujah. It meant that Peter Stöger side stole a march on the visitors for a Europa League place in what has become an exciting joust between a quintet of teams.
• Bayern is back home after winning the title last week, and he clenched his past, Darmstadt, thanks to a class of Juan Bernat goal, which relegated Torsten Frings valiant visitors. The third choice goalkeeper Tom Starke, who is due to retire at the end of the season, “he won the game for us today,” in the words of Carlo Ancelotti, saving a late penalty from Bayern pupil Hamit Altintop. Starke stepped after Sven Corner was injured in the Friday training, and shone to the extent that Ancelotti’s assistant, Hermann Gerland felt compelled to dive in a TV interview after the game, and apply a little hairspray to the goalkeeper as he was questioned.
Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski guides a header towards goal in the Bundesliga game with Darmstadt. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock
• Hamburg and Mainz drew 0-0 in the weekend of the great battle at the bottom, but that have never relegated the northern and the current occupants of the relegation in the nba – have been very lucky to hang on to a point in a game in which they were saved, more than once, their excellent goalkeeper Christian Mathenia. “These are the games that have relatively little to do with football,” the coach Markus Gisdol told Sky after the game, and the same is likely to be the case for the last two games of the season; next week’s trip to Schalke and the final of the match against Wolfsburg at the Volkspark.
• After the first time the coach Andries Jonker admitted: “it was Bundesliga football”, two sublime second-half goals from Daniel Didavi and Mario Gomez earned the fight Wolfsburg a vital win at Eintracht Frankfurt. Gómez, Die Wölfe of the captain for the day after Luiz Gustavo’s meltdown last week, set the player to Didavi and, after his strike, he scored 15 this season. Gustavo, surprisingly, was suspended for one game following his reaction to a red card against Bayern last week, and so is available for the home game with Gladbach on Saturday.
• Just above them on Saturday, Augusta had searched for a vital win to Borussia Mönchengladbach Alfred Finnbogason goal until – almost inevitably – their ex-player, André Hahn slipped in a post: goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time to break their hearts. Even if they have two points more than Hamburg and Mainz, receive Dortmund next week before making the short trip to Hoffenheim on the last day.
• Leverkusen are not secure is only a point ahead of Augusta, and that could be a lot worse. Karim Bellarabi, Kevin Kampl and Chicharito all starting on the bench, they needed a late header from 17-year-old Kai Havertz (who is sitting out a few games recently because of academic commitments) to save a point of Ingolstadt, that are almost down after failing to win. Die Werkself’s two remaining games are tough ones too, starting with near-neighbours and Cologne next week. No wonder that they emphasized the sporting director Rudi Völler left his seat in the stand during the first 10 minutes of the game for the sanctuary of the visitors dressing room.