A forgettable performance at Red Bull Arena left Leipzig feeling as if they’d lost two points over earning one after a 1-1 draw with Paderborn. Julian Nagelsmann’s team limped away with another draw at home and missed a chance to put distance between themselves and Europa League slots. Unfortunately, a stoppage time equalizer sent last place Paderborn into delirium and kept their chances at staying in the Bundesliga alive.
The story of the match can’t be told without mentioning that one of Leipzig’s only remaining center backs, and the man who has seen the most action at the position, was sent off before halftime. After an initial yellow for a tough challenge, Dayot Upamecano kicked a ball out of play after being whistled for a foul and received a second yellow card for his troubles in the 45th minute. Upamecano being sent off just before the half turned the game on its head, and Leipzig seemed to struggle to get their head back into the game and convert to kill the game off. Despite losing Upamecano, Leipzig had a goal advantage entering halftime thanks to 27th minute goal by Patrik Schick, the Roma loanee who may earn a permanent offer.
Leipzig saw a minor rotation in defensive midfield as well, with Tyler Adams being partnered with Kevin Kampl (who had been pulled from a prior start due to last minute injury). This meant that defensive talisman Konrad Laimer was intended to get a rest, but also that the overwhelming pressure and dominant presence which Laimer brought would need to be compensated for. On his end, Tyler Adams performed well enough. But with a man down, and five subs to play with, Nagelsmann was forced to put Laimer on in an attempt to shore up the defense in the second half.
This followed a theme that saw Leipzig swing towards a slightly more controlled and defensive approach that you wouldn’t be used to seeing from a Red Bull club. Attackers were slowly subbed off, with goalscorer Schick being the first and later followed by Nkunku and Olmo following after, and defense becoming the name of the game. This couldn’t make up for the fact that Leipzig had no natural centerback on the pitch. This meant that the midfield needed to pick up some slack, and Malian international Amadou Haidara was forced into a more prominent role in trying to close down that midfield. While Leipzig were, of course, down a man, Haidara showed he struggled with the task at hand and was unable to impose himself on the ball and those in possession of it.
It shouldn’t be said that Leipzig lacked scoring chances, far from it. A rocket from Danny Olmo required a great bit of goalkeeping to keep out of the net, and Timo Werner managed to beat the keeper to a ball wide in Paderborn’s own box only to be denied by a hustling defender. Nothing to take away from the best chance Leipzig had to seal the game away when the ball landed right in front of goal for Amadou Haidara, and with a gaping net in front of him the midfielder put it square into the seats behind net. It was reminiscent of an earlier chance from a few games back when Ademola Lookman missed another open chance in the box, and much like in that encounter, Leipzig would rue their misfortune.
Paderborn equalized in the second minute of stoppage time from a broken down set piece which saw a rebounded shot bounce off Peter Gulácsi and straight towards the unmarked Paderborn captain Christian Strohdeik. Strohdeik put it just past a sprawling Gulácsi and sent the last place Paderborn back home with a draw, and still having a puncher’s chance to stay in the Bundesliga. Luckily for Leipzig, their nearest competition for the last UCL slots all dropped points and left Leipzig with some breathing room. They now sit a full three points clear of both Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen, and would be ahead of both clubs in a draw based on current goal differential.
Leipzig have a relatively stable week ahead, with no midweek action, as they look to mix it up with TSG Hoffenheim on Friday.
SALZBURG FACE CROWDED HOME STRETCH
The Austrian Bundesliga back under way and Red Bull Salzburg under former RBNY man Jesse Marsch are marching on. With two matches in the championship round of the Austrian Bundesliga, Red Bull Salzburg won both and opened up a commanding seven point lead over current second place team Wolfsberg. The nearest competition to Salzburg had been LASK, the very club who had their total points reduced due to COVID training violations, and they lost the first midweek fixture and then drew. Walking away with only 1 of a potential 6 points to keep up with Salzburg. Salzburg’s most recent game, a 6-0 thrashing of TSV Hartberg which included a hat trick by Patson Daka, finally saw the offense clicking to levels that hadn’t been seen since December of 2019, before the departure of Takumi Minamino and Erling Håland.
Jesse and the boys enter back into the fray on Wednesday, as the Austrian Bundesliga will be featuring games each Wednesday and Sunday for the next few weeks until the completion of the season. Meaning for Salzburg to retain their crown, this translates to eight games in the next four weeks. Salzburg look to continue their winning ways this Wednesday when they face off against Sturm Graz.