RB Leipzig – A perfect start imminent?
If DFB-Pokal holders RB Leipzig wanted to lay down an early psychological marker, and make the rest of the league sit up and watch, then it’s certainly mission accomplished there.
A 3-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the DFL Supercup showed the full extent of what can be expected from RB Leipzig this season. They did the business at both ends, impressively denying 100m euro man Harry Kane a debut Bayern goal. Meanwhile, Dani Olmo was sensational on the left flank, going on to complete his very first career hat-trick after a third-minute strike:
With Leipzig looking just as potent as ever, can they maintain a 100% record through to the September international break?
A bold call, but not impossible
Leipzig face tough trips to Bayer Leverkusen and Union Berlin inside the first three rounds. However, the Red Bulls last enjoyed a perfect three-game start as recently as 2019. Then in his first spell at the club, Timo Werner was a vital cog in the machine. He hit five goals across that trio of wins, including the first of three hat-tricks he would net in 2019/20:
But sadly, the good times wouldn’t last in 2019/20. Leipzig fell 16 points short of eventual champions Bayern, contributing much to the average 12.2-point deficit to the Reds across seasons where they have finished on the podium.
Could it be any different this time? There’s no Robert Lewandowski this time around for Bayern, and they just barely held onto the title without him last season.
In contrast to Bayern, the responsibility of being the focal point in the final third may be shared more equally with Leipzig. The sight of two up front for them in Saturday’s Super Cup – with marquee summer signing Lois Openda partnering Werner at the business end – was an intriguing return to tradition.
As far as attacking partnerships go, it will need time to gel. But when it does… POW!
Of course, it won’t be a constant theme throughout the season, as injuries and suspensions kick in, but we’ll see a lot more of that dual attack in games Leipzig are expected to dominate. Current Bundesliga odds on DraftKings also have both men leading the first scorer market for their opening round battle with Leverkusen:
However, Marco Rose may be inclined to keep one of them on the bench on the opening weekend. And that is for a very good reason. Earlier in the summer, I backed them to finish fourth. But they could do even better still under Xabi Alonso’s revolution.
Leverkusen vs Leipzig current prices
The prices shown earlier reflect a huge clash of ideology. On the one hand, you have a visiting team that finished 16 points clear of its hosts in 2022/23, and has a strike force set to tear any distant dogs to pieces without skipping a beat.
But on the other, there’s a host side that has a newly-strengthened core, comprising of the experienced hard case Granit Xhaka and promising Nigerian starlet Victor Boniface.
Leverkusen also won last season’s home clash with Leipzig 2-0, making them the only side not to be whupped by the Red Bulls in the final eight Bundesliga rounds of last season:
Leverkusen v Leipzig – Tamhas’ picks
If Xhaka can translate the consistency he showed for Arsenal in his last season there into Leverkusen’s opening duel with Leipzig, then it’s hard to see Leipzig getting even the first part of a flawless league start on the board. My picks for this heavyweight duel are as follows:
- Score: 1-1 (+450)
- First scorer: Werner (+550)
- HT/FT: Leipzig/Tie (+1200)
A clear road ahead?
Perhaps one element working in Leipzig’s favor is that it can often take even the best teams time to get match sharp at the back. In a high-scoring league like the Bundesliga, that can translate to some very dramatic curtain raisers.
Leverkusen is definitely the biggest barrier on paper to a perfect three-game start for Leipzig. Should they get three points from the BayArena, then their next opponents – a Stuttgart side that avoided relegation only via a playoff – will surely fall like eleven dominoes.
That much is already reflected in the spread lines for the game itself. In particular, the price for Leipzig to cover a -2.5 handicap is eye-catching:
As for the third-round clash at Union Berlin in early September, that’s even tougher to call. I’ve already tipped Union for a five-place dip on last season. But much of that is down to the fatigue they will experience from a maiden Champions League campaign.
Then again, if Sheraldo Becker is marshalled well enough, Leipzig could get a narrow win with both teams scoring. Definitely keep a close eye on that parlay’s movements when it goes live on DraftKings.