JUlian Nagelsmann clapped his pros with a grin. With difficulty but effectively, RB Leipzig solved the compulsory task in the title race on the Bielefelder Alm – and is ready for the showdown with FC Bayern. The goal of captain Marcel Sabitzer (46.) gave the superior table runner-up on Friday evening the 1-0 (0-0) success in the end harmless and still heavily relegated Arminia. Leipzig shortened the gap to Bayern to one point before their game against VfB Stuttgart on Saturday. After the international break, the Saxons receive the league leaders for a top game.
“I think we made it unnecessarily exciting,” said Leipzig’s sports director Markus Krösche after the game at DAZN. “But Bielefeld defended passionately.” Over the entire duration of the game, the win was “deserved”. Arminias Arne Maier analyzed “a very intensive running” game. “Every player tried to give everything.”
Leipzig dominated the first half with almost 90 percent possession at times, but remained harmless. Nagelsmann had changed his starting eleven to five positions after the 1-1 draw against Eintracht Frankfurt – and initially played in Bielefeld without a real striker, but with an offensive back four. Amadou Haidara tried it from distance in the 12th minute, Bielefeld goalkeeper Stefan Ortega had no trouble with the shot. Only after half an hour there was the first corner for RB.
The hosts, who started with the self-confidence of the 2-1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen, pulled back a long way and limited themselves to the defensive. “We want to deliver a huge fight,” said coach Frank Kramer, who had ordered Michel Vlap into the starting line-up, shortly before the game at DAZN. After a far too weak shot by Fabian Klos (26th), the applause of the Bielefeld substitute players broke out in the stadium.
The Leipzig attacks became a test of patience. With many passes in the defensive row already in the Bielefeld half, the second in the table tried to find the gap in the direction of the goal. In the meantime, Nagelsmann’s defense chief Willi Orban had played more passes than the entire Arminia team (90 to 89 in the 39th minute). Barely ten minutes before half-time, Nagelsmann was sitting on the bench, wrapped in his winter jacket, discussing with his assistants.
Only when the guests managed to increase the pace in one move did the best chance of the first half arise late: Ortega steered Christopher Nkunku’s shot to the crossbar in dire need (43.). In the second half it went much faster – only 53 seconds after the restart, Dani Olmo hung up after a strong conquest of the ball for Sabitzer, who scored his sixth goal of the season.
Bielefeld found it difficult to give the right answer. A shot from Klos from a promising position went over the Leipziger Tor (56th). The guests continued to determine the game, but the Saxons failed to score the second goal early. RB had won the previous three away games 3-0.
Substitute Hee-Chang Hwang messed up the ball on the way to Bielefeld goal (76th). In the closing stages, Kevin Kampl saw his fifth yellow card of the season – he’ll be out against Bayern in two weeks.
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