Ken Cioffredi: Europa League Draw: RasenBallsport Leipzig

Napoli’s unceremonious exit from the UEFA Champions League last week, which saw the Partenopei finish 3rd in their group, meant that we finally knew where our next European venture would take place; the Europa League. Some Napoli fans will see this  as a waste, because the money and prestige isn’t the same as it’s bigger brother competition. Others see it as a way to rotate in young talent, and a building block for the club’s ambitions. Regardless of that though, today we found out our opponent in the Round of 32; RasenBallsport Leipzig.

RB Leipzig will present a challenge for Maurizio Sarri’s men. I know a lot of Napoli supporters were hoping to see an “easier” draw, but we got another eliminated Champions League squad. It will be very interesting to see how Sarri approaches this re: rotation given the quality of opponent. The German side finished 2nd last season in the Bundesliga, and have an abundance of young and promising players in their squad. I’ll do my best below to give a brief introduction and what we can expect from the club from Leipzig:

Style of Play:

RB Leipzig play an interesting formation, which I will show below, a modified 4-2-4, and their style of play is based on a few things.

  1. Pressure in the midfield – They allow their formation to compress around the opposing midfield, cutting down passing lanes, and allowing this pressure to spring their second most used weapon…
  2. Counter Attack – RB Leipzig’s counter attack is one of the most potent in Europe. They scored 11 goals on the counter last year, which lead the Bundesliga.


If RB Leipzig play their first team squad, it will look something like this:

4-2-4(4-2-2-2): Gulacsi; Klostermann, Ilsanker, Konate, Halstenberg; Keita, Demme; Sabitzer, Forsberg; Poulsen, Werner

Danger Men:

Naby Keita:  One of Europe’s most exciting young midfielders. He is an explosive box-to-box player, and can trigger some of the best counter-attacking playing teams on the continent. After being moved away from a more defensive role earlier in his career, Keita has been allowed more freedom to get forward in RB Leipzig’s system, making him a budding star. He has been able to parlay that outstanding play into a 50 Million Euro move to join Liverpool on July 1, 2018.

Marcel Sabitzer: The young Austrian is another integral cog to RB Leipzig’s devastating counter attacks. He has absolutely blistering wheels, and combines well with his Striking partners, Poulsen and Werner. He is also very versatile, which helps him be plugged in on either flank, or as a Striker if needed. He is a pretty direct player, and is not afraid to take on defenders.

Timo Werner: Speaking of wheels, they don’t call him Timo Werner “Burner” for nothing. The German Striker bagged 21 goals last season, and has started this season with 12 in all competitions. His pace and scoring ability will put Napoli’s high press to the test, and his partner up front, Yussuf Poulsen, is the muscle allowing Werner to make his impressive runs while holding up the ball.

By Ken Cioffredi

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