The Bundesliga is back, and RBNY’s sister club RB Leipzig, just four points out of first place and thick in the hunt for Champions League places, were dealt a frustrating draw by minnows SC Freiburg.
From the start, Freiburg were content to bunker and allow Leipzig to control the game. Leipzig was more or less able to break down this bunker and create several positive chances. In the first fifteen minutes Leipzig organized several near-miss attacks, but something was clearly off. Of course, this was something you should expect particularly in a system as involved as the RB press scheme.
They tentatively move into 7th place in a draw with Leipzig that felt more akin to a loss. This was probably helped by the VAR overturned chance that Freiburg converted in stoppage time, but the reality of the situation demonstrated how two months away left a lot of rust. Defender Manuel Guide “scored” a goal that seemed to eek through by mistake and later on Leipzig would equalize, ending the first fixture for either teams 1-1.
The most egregious miss for RB was a picture perfect cross that was delivered to former England U-21 international Ademola Lookman. Unmarked and directly in front of Alexander Schwolow’s goal, Lookman shanked the chance wide. It was a tough moment for Lookman, who had just recently been subbed on.
On the defensive side of the ball, Leipzig still was missing several pieces. While they weren’t often challenged, when Freiburg attacked there were moments of confusion. The flanks of RB Leipzig were held down by two MLS alumni, in a bizarro Hudson River Derby reunion. On one side featured former NYCFC man, Angeliño and the other of course being RBNY’s favorite son Tyler Adams. This was another feature at the right wingback later becoming a dedicated right back for around 15 minutes in the second half in emergency service. Traditional RB Leipzig right back, Nordi Mukiele, was pressed into service as one of the three centerbacks. He was the one subbed on for prospective goalscorer, Ademola Lookman.
During his MLS career in New York, Adams made only fifteen starts at the right back/right wingback position over his time with the senior squad. Perhaps you’ve heard the discourse that this is his best position, break the conditioning. Seeing Adams at right back isn’t what Red Bull brought him over here to do. But until defenders are back into the fold, Adams will be here as an ersatz option. He’s played far more games as the bite in the defensive midfield and will continue doing so.
All in all, probably the performance you’d expect from a young team who had to take two months off. With several players on the back end out of position, this was a reasonable result. It will still feel like a disappointment, particularly with the title race still up in the air. Next week we might see the return of team captain Willi Orban back into the defensive fold, something Nagelsmann desperately needs.