RB Leipzig’s offensive series has often been the focus of attention since the beginning of this season. The regained director Emil Forsberg, striker Yussuf Poulsen, who now even scores dream goals, and most recently Angeliño, who has been transformed into a winger, made the headlines. In the 2: 1 (1: 1) work victory of the league leaders against Hertha BSC on Saturday, however, two pure defenders decided the game with their offensive actions. Before the Champions League appearance of the Leipzig team on Wednesday at Old Trafford against Manchester United (9 p.m.) an important indication for coach Julian Nagelsmann that he can spare his top performers and that the team still does the mandatory tasks solidly. Eight different players have already entered the list of goalscorers in the post-Timo Werner era – new Leipzig variability.
Only a few minutes after Herthas Jhon Cordoba’s opening goal with a perfectly staged counterattack (8th), Dayot Upamecano struck back. First, the massive French hit the ball a little unmotivated and hastily into the center of the box – half pass, half shot. But when the ball bounced back on him, he took his second chance. He irresistibly pulled the ball close to his foot against three Berliners in the five-meter space and shot it with all his force into the goal. Upamecano’s quick equalization (11th) is a rarity, because it was his first goal since May 2018 – at the 6-2 in Berlin. The defensive giant has only scored four goals for grass ball sport. Hard to believe with his physical presence and class.
Coach Julian Nagelsmann used the goal to spur the French international on. “It is well known that he is one of the top players in Europe in his position,” said the coach. Against Hertha he was one of the best on the field, won many duels, ran Cordoba, Matheus Cunha and Dodi Lukebakio from the balls at over 35 km / h and only could not fill the holes with 0: 1. “But what sets him apart from Virgil van Dijk,” said Nagelsmann, “that he reliably scores five or six goals this season and is incredibly dangerous”. By comparing it with the best defender in the world, the ambitious Leipzig head coach set the bar pretty high for the highly talented Upamecano.
But even the man with roots in Guinea-Bissau is “greedy” to add more goal danger to his game. Above all, the head of the buffalo is said to be more dangerous among the “bulls”. Nagelsmann reported that he was “working hard” on the timing during training. In addition, the RB team continues to work on the quality of the flanks and standards. “If he still takes his chances now, he’s even more valuable to us than he already is,” said Nagelsmann.
And Upamecano’s experienced neighbor Willi Orban is always good for a handful of hits per season. Against the Berlin team, he headed the crossbar in front of Upamecano’s goal and took out the penalty kick, which captain Marcel Sabitzer converted to the winning goal on his comeback (77th). The storming man-decker Orban had swapped roles with Cordoba and was pushed into the Berlin penalty area, so that the defending attacker Cordoba could only fall awkwardly from behind on the Hungarian international. For this run, Orban, who was not particularly fast, but was strong in headers and battles, received an extra praise from Nagelsmann.
After the hard flash dismissal against Deyovaisio Zeefuik, who had only been on the field for four and a half minutes when he saw yellow-red after two fouls on Christopher Nkunku (50th), the game for the initially counter-strong and robust Herthaner was gone. Except for coach Bruno Labbadia, who, after receiving a yellow card, imposed himself not to say anything about referee Tobias Stieler, the Herthaners worked on the referee. Keeper Alexander Schwolow spoke of a “clear wrong decision”. And manager Michael Preetz found that the referee had “put himself above the game”. “If fouls were whistled,” said Preetz, “then always against Hertha BSC”. There were 22 free kicks for RB, eleven times Stieler whistled for the Herthaners, whose game concept, however, includes disrupting the opponent’s rhythm with many small fouls. After four defeats in a row and 15th place in the table, the boom at Hertha now hangs mightily wrong. The pressure on Labbadia, who was “very disappointed” and had speculated on “more than one point”, is growing.