RB Leipzig have not acquired off to probably the most profitable of campaigns this season, solely profitable considered one of their opening 5 fixtures and dropping to Shakhtar Donetsk of their first Champions League group match. As a end result, coach Domenico Tedesco has been relieved of his duties, forcing the membership to start out once more only a month into the 2022-23 marketing campaign.
While their defence has conceded 9 targets within the league already, their assault hit a brand new low of their most up-to-date Bundesliga match, a 4-0 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt through which they didn’t create a single shot on the right track. Last yr, Tedesco got here in to revitalise a entrance three benefitting the likes of Christopher Nkunku, Andre Silva and Dominik Szoboszlai, however this season from matchday two, they’ve additionally introduced Timo Werner again after an underwhelming spell at Chelsea.
Since then, a beginning line up of Nkunku and Werner have solely managed to look sharp towards Wolfsburg and is now shortly regressing. Why is not it working?
Tedesco’s assault in a historic season
To perceive why it is failing now, we have to recognise what was so efficient final yr.
Leipzig switched from Jesse Marsch‘s high-intensity, counter-attack strategy again in direction of a slow-possession philosophy and Tedesco, together with very balanced actions from their entrance three, acquired them taking part in as they had been used to below Nagelsmann. The important facets of the assault that had been tough to defend concerned the varieties within the patterns of the offensive gamers and their traits. For instance, Nkunku was the roaming, technically-gifted and quick ahead, Andre Silva was a succesful, link-up striker who offered presence up entrance and Leipzig had a dynamic No.10 (Dominik Szoboszlai, Emil Forsberg, Dani Olmo) connecting the strikers with the midfield.
Their particular person strengths had been so properly put collectively that at any given second final season, a participant may drop onto the wing or assault the area behind the final defending opponent (also referred to as the “final line of defence”) whereas nonetheless being structurally balanced by their teammates. This allowed Tedesco’s males to assault by all 5 lanes of the pitch, whether or not it was a ball development by passing or an extended ball with them profitable the second ball.
The introduction of Werner
The techniques final yr below Tedesco ended with RB Leipzig profitable the DFB Pokal, qualifying for a Champions League spot and Nkunku profitable Bundesliga participant of the yr. While they drew their first sport 1-1 towards VfB Stuttgart this season, they had been unfortunate to not win, with their entrance three working as anticipated. But of their second match, with new signing Werner staring towards Cologne, we may see issues effervescent.
As a centre-forward, Werner is a really succesful choice to assault the area behind the final line of defence, the place he can outrun the opponents together with his pace and agility and transfer into harmful scoring positions. However he isn’t as a lot of a link-up participant as Silva and gives much less bodily presence. The challenge that confirmed up at instances within the first match Werner and Nkunku began collectively is that they’re each comparable by way of motion, roaming round and never providing as a lot in linking-up play.
In many circumstances, Leipzig progress the ball from their again three onto the wing, which supplies technique to fast passes behind their rivals defence with Werner and Nkunku drifting broad or beginning a deep run. Since their No.10 can also be a really dynamic and forward-thinking participant, they don’t have any choices to progress to a ahead who will then maintain up the ball, resulting in Leipzig dropping the ball or unable to battle for the second ball.
This shouldn’t be framed as merely a “Werner drawback,” however as a problem with the construction round him and the personnel required to make this efficient. As we have seen within the DFB-Pokal, when Werner began together with Silva, the assault flowed easily and there have been robust options within the remaining third. (They had been taking part in a fourth-tier German group besides, 19 pictures on the right track and an 8-0 win continues to be proof that this was an environment friendly strategy.) This signifies that having two forwards with comparable patterns of play below Tedesco’s philosophies hindered them as they cannot acquire second balls or get right into a secure counter-pressing (the act of defending after dropping possession) construction, which in flip additionally hurts their defensive stability once they lose the ball.
How may Tedesco have mounted this?
As the above already suggests, rotating between Nkunku and Werner was one technique to repair this challenge and because it guarantees to be an extended season with fixture congestion and the 2022 World Cup, it is not the worst possibility. However, you all the time invite criticism when leaving your finest gamers on the bench and outcomes do not go your method consequently.
A extra pragmatic strategy would have been to make use of Nkunku as a No.10 in the identical formation as an alternative of Olmo, who’s injured for six weeks anyway, and due to this fact permitting all three of the aforementioned forwards to start out collectively with out altering the construction. Last yr’s Bundesliga participant of the season definitely has the skill-set to play as a ten and would create area to play a bodily more-present striker, resembling Silva and even Youssef Poulsen, who can stability Werner and Nkunku in addition to combating for second balls and offering the construction permitting them to take action.
There was additionally a 3rd possibility, which was to alter the formation to a 3-1-4-2 with Nkunku and Werner up entrance, however taking part in two No.8s (central midfielders) behind them. This would have meant Tedesco would not have needed to drop any of the primary beginning XI, and there would have been somebody behind the 2 strikers to gather second balls, due to this fact balancing the construction in each assault and defence. The draw back to that is that while you push extra of your group larger up the pitch, you are extra uncovered to counter-attacks.
Unfortunately, as we noticed towards Leipzig’s sport towards Shakhtar, Tedesco didn’t strive both of those workable options and opted to go for a 4-2-3-1 with Silva up entrance, Nkunku as a ten and Werner on the left wing. This formation did not go well with the person profiles of those gamers; moreover, it affected their build-up play in such a method that it pushed gamers to make particular person errors, wanting like they’d no extra confidence to play.
There had been options for Tedesco, however sadly he could not make the most of them earlier than his tenure at Leipzig fell away with the outcomes. Time will inform if Marco Rose can get them again as much as scratch and first up, he faces his outdated membership Borussia Dortmund this weekend.