RB Leipzig has been called the “Leicester City of the Bundesliga.”
While their story in truth has little parallel to that of their English counterparts, it’s still a shock that they hold the outright lead in the Bundesliga table 11 matches in.
There are many who have praised their play, and they have earned that right. Leipzig has scored 23 goals, with only giants Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund scoring more. Leipzig has conceded just nine goals, with only four teams boasting such a defensive record.
And yet, there are some who do not appreciate new cooks in the kitchen.
Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzk has taken a pair of public swipes at the little newly-promoted club. A week after saying Leipzig was playing just “to promote a canned drink,” Watzk told shareholders frankly at an official meeting, “We don’t need this leader,” before jabbing, “but I tip my hat to their sporting performance.”
Watzk is not alone in his beliefs. RB Leipzig is the soccer version of Frankenstein’s monster, a scientific experiment that some Germans feel threatens their very way of (soccer) life. Energy drink manufacturers Red Bull, never ones to shy away from daring athletic performances, bought a fifth-tier club in 2009 and completely rebranded them, circumventing name-changing rules by using the “RB” in the team’s name, which does not technically stand for “Red Bull” but rather “RasenBallsport” which translates to “lawn sport.”
The team has also raised season ticket prices at a rate far beyond the rest of clubs in Germany, which has angered many as stunningly low ticket prices are a source of pride for the German league, especially clubs at the top. They’ve also circumvented member association rules and other ways of German soccer life with corporate loopholes that have caused understandable hatred of those around them.
Nonetheless, the product on the field speaks for itself: they are the only remaining club with a giant goose egg in the loss column. If they can maintain it remains to be seen. Clearly, plenty are rooting against them.