The extraordinary story behind RB Leipzig’s rise to the top

Somasekharan
|Published 17/07/2017

The whole underdog story rose back into prominence in football over the last couple of years.

With the crazy amount of money being spent on players in the Premier League, no one could have expected what Leicester City managed to do in the 2015-16 season, beating the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, both the Manchester clubs and Liverpool to the title.

A similar story, creating a similar wave of optimism, occurred in the Bundesliga last season when German top flight new boys, Rasen Ballsport Leipzig, shocked everyone and grabbed the runners up spot and earned themselves a ticket to the Champions League next season.

But their to the top wasn’t always easy and had a lot of tough situations, which they had to overcome.

Rasen Ballsport Leipzig weren’t always Rasen Ballsport Leipzig, i.e, until 2009, they were a fifth division club by the name of SSV Markranstädt based in Leipzig, Saxony.

They were then taken over by Austrian energy drink manufacturer, Red Bull, in a view to get them into the top flight within a stipulated time frame of 8 years.

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The change in ownership oversaw a change in their name, crest and kit, and added them to a host of sports teams owned by Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz including Red Bull Salzburg, based in Austria, the New York Red Bulls and the Red Bull Brasil, based in São Paulo.

It was in the 2013-14 season that Leipzig started showing signs of promise when they stepped out for their first ever season in the third division of German football,3 Liga.

They managed to finish in the second spot, guaranteeing themselves a place in the 2 Bundesliga, becoming the first team ever to gain promotion in their maiden season, at that level.

The move up saw a wave of signings at the club and the team performed well above expectations to finish a highly fifth in the 2014-15 season.

The second season saw Leipzig spend big again, with them breaking the transfer record in the second division for getting Davie Selke from Werder Bremen.

It proved out to be a wise decision, as the team finished second in the league and gained direct promotion to the Bundesliga.

Following their rise into the first division, head coach Ralf Rangnick resigned and was replaced by Ralph Hasenhüttl on May 6, 2016.

Under the new head coach, Leipzig started off their maiden campaign in the Bundesliga in a spectacular way, going unbeaten in the first thirteen league matches on their way to breaking the record for the longest undefeated streak for a newly promoted side in the league.

It was a record breaking season for them as they also became the first team from the area of former East Germany to hold the top stop in the league since the 1991-92 season.

They also kept the position for three weeks running, before they were left behind by eventual champions Bayern Munich.

Their Champions League qualification also saw them become the first Bundesliga debutant to do so.

In short, they had a fantastic season, with the likes of Emil Forsberg, Timo Werner and Naby Keita receiving most of the plaudits and gaining plenty of attention across Europe.

However, Rasen Ballsport Leipzig’s rise to the top has been marred by controversies concerning their apparent lack of a football history and with them not being associated with any specific style of football.

Despite all these criticisms, the team have made sure that their actions on the field speak for itself, as they gear up for their maiden European journey.


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