Manuel Veth –
Leipzig v Köln – November, 23 – Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany
Köln used the international break to bring in new head coach Markus Gisdol and sporting director Horst Heldt. But despite the changes, Leipzig were the team to quickly take control of proceeding. In the 22nd minute, Timo Werner opened the scoring with his 12th goal of the season after a great cross by Christopher Nkunku. Nkunku had a flying start and in the 30th minute earned a penalty for his club after being brought down by Kingsley Ehizibue. Emil Forsberg stepped up to convert from the spot. Then in the 37th minute, Konrad Laimer added a third, beating Timo Horn with a shot from outside the box. Just two minutes later Köln were on the board, Rafael Czichos heading home a corner to make it 3-1.
Leipzig, however, never led Köln back into the game in the second half. Keeping up the pressure, the Red Bulls were looking for a fourth goal to wrap the match up. Leipzig had chance upon chance; the best example was Werner’s missed shot from inside the box in the 66th minute. Finally, in the 78th minute, Emil Forsberg wrapped it up. The Swede scored with a stunning freekick to make it 4-1. Thee only negative for Leipzig? The club lost defender Dayot Upamecano, in what looked like a severe injury.
Leipzig v Köln – Three Stars
Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)
Christopher Nkunku had a flying start to the game. The new signing from Paris Saint-Germain started up-front alongside Timo Werner. Despite playing out of position, the two combined well right from the start, Nkunku setting up Werner for the opening goal and then created the penalty that was converted by Forsberg.
Emil Forsberg (RB Leipzig)
Forsberg scored a brace. But it was not just his penalty and wonderful freekick goal that made him one of the three stars on Saturday afternoon. The Swede had a perfect game, completing 88.9% of his passes and won four out of his six duels. In many ways, it was a vintage Forsberg performance that we often visited in his first Bundesliga season with the club.
Timo Werner (RB Leipzig)
The national team striker cannot stop scoring. The youngest player ever to reach 200 Bundesliga games, Werner scored the opener after a great Nkunku assist. With 12 goals in 12 Bundesliga games this season, Werner is only second to Lewandowski in the Bundesliga goalscoring race.
GOALS: 1-0 (Werner 22’) 2-0 (Forsberg, 30’ PE) 3-0 (Laimer, 37’), 3-1 (Czichos, 39′), 4-1 (Forsberg, 78′)
On a matchday in which both Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach dropped points, Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig are the big winners at the top of the table. Leipzig, like Bayern, moved within one point of league leaders, Gladbach. The Red Bulls are even ahead of Bayern in the standings thanks to a better goal differential.
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Leipzig’s next big test will be against Benfica midweek. One point against the Portuguese will see Leipzig advance. Whether they will have Upamecano available for the game remains to be seen.
Leipzig v Köln – Line-ups
Gulacsi – Halstenberg (Saracchi, 82′), Upamecano, Ilsanker, Klostermann – Demme, Laimer – Forsberg (Haidara, 80′), Sabitzer – Werner, Nkunku (Schick, 75′)
Horn – Hector, Czichos, Bornauw, Ehizibue – Verstraete, Höger (Terodde, 70′), Skhiri (Kainz, 46′) – Jakobs, Modeste, Schindler (Risse, 59′)
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others, contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC, and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.