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European Red Bull Round-Up: Leipzig secure European spot while Salzburg close in on title

Jesse Marsch prepares to become the first American coach to win a league title in Europe

FC Red Bull Salzburg v RZ Pellets WAC - tipico Bundesliga Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

For RB Leipzig, it was the tale of their entire season played out again in living color. Once again, they were unable to defeat their primary rivals in the Bundesliga and fell 2-0 to the talents of Red Bull Salzburg product Erling Håland and Borussia Dortmund.

Leipzig were able to secure themselves a Champions League slot however, with Bayer Leverkusen losing their match against Hertha Berlin, and now the remaining action is left to see if Leipzig finish 3rd or 4th. The whole season, domestically, must still feel a bit of a letdown since everything was there for them. In what was likely the final home game of Timo Werner’s Red Bull career, the Chelsea bound forward struggled to leave his mark on the game as did most of Leipzig. Erling Håland spent the early portion of the match putting Peter Gulácsi’s goal under siege, with at least two shots on goal that were turned away by the Hungarian international. In the 30th minute however, Leipzig’s luck ran out and Dortmund tore apart Leipzig on the counterattack and Håland finally had his goal as the familiar story came to its final act.

Throughout their tenure in the Bundesliga, Leipzig have struggled to put away their top tier opposition, in an almost comical manner. They’ve only won three of the 18 fixtures they’ve played against Dortmund/Bayern and the last win came in the 2017-18 season. That’s a percentage below the Mendoza line for those keeping track at home. While 2019-20 saw them only lose once (Saturday’s fixture), the remaining games saw them draw and be unable to put the title away. Those nine points they failed to win against their top competition helped Bayern waltz to another championship. Fundamentally, Leipzig can not move into the elite of a league that’s been as close to a walk over for Bayern as possible without starting to win more of those games. Draws are not good enough. It is all fine and dandy to be blitzing through some generic West German factory city’s club just happy to make up the numbers, it’s another entirely to win against teams who’s major ambition each year is UCL semi-finals or bust.

Leipzig closed out the season at home having not won a single of their games at Red Bull Arena since the restart, managing only four draws and this final loss. Their final placing will be determined this Saturday as Leipzig do battle against the other Bavarian club FC Augsburg, with a win securing their spot as third in the table. Leipzig will also have this season’s champions league to play out, as they’ll begin their quest for European glory in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, against an opponent to be determined.

FC Red Bull Salzburg v RZ Pellets WAC - tipico Bundesliga
Enock Mwepu of Red Bull Salzburg
Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Red Bull Salzburg also didn’t have things quite their own way as they played two back to back fixtures against Wolfsberger AC, drawing each game. It is an exceedingly difficult proposition to play a team twice in a four day span, and even with a rotated team for each game, Jesse Marsch and Salzburg were unable to put them away. Of particular disappointment was the second game, where Salzburg went 2-0 up only to concede twice in the second half to settle for a 2-2 draw. This left a sour taste in their mouth, but this was erased almost immediately with news that principal rivals for the title, Rapid Vienna, lost their fixture on Sunday. Despite Vienna winning their Wednesday tilt, they’d still only managed to gain 1 total point on Salzburg’s 7 point lead. Now, with Salzburg still sitting with a six point cushion, Jesse Marsch prepares his side to go 1 on 1 with Rapid Vienna and TSV Hartberg this week.