RB Leipzig – Match Report vs 1. FSV Mainz 05 24/05/20

This is a guest article from Josh Bratch.

RB Leipzig dominated Mainz 5-0, with Timo Werner putting in a man of the match performance after scoring a hattrick. Julian Nagelsmann’s tactics of high energy, high press suited his players to a tee. Playing in a 4-4-2 formation meant there was lots of space for RB Leipzig to cover, but their level of work rate meant that they constantly attacked the space. Mainz were limited to very few opportunities as they would be swarmed by Leipzig players very quickly, with Klostermann staying focused throughout the game to ensure a clean sheet. The movement of RB Leipzig’s strikers Poulsen and Werner as well as from wingers Olmo and Nkunku was nigh on impossible for the opposition to track and they packed the opposition penalty area. These forward players had a field day making excellent runs and producing quality interplay, working their way through efficiently and ferociously. Timo Werner in particular was clinical, with his pace and clever runs in the channels and his assured finishing. He claimed his hattrick late in the second half, by which point Leipzig were well clear and had already sealed the three points.

Ratings

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average, don’t follow up

Timo Werner

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: German
  • Age: 24
  • Date of Birth: 06/03/1996
  • Current Club: RB Leipzig
  • Career: VfB Stuttgart, RB Leipzig
  • Position: Striker
  • Secondary Position: Left Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right

Werner was clinical and proved extremely difficult for the Mainz defence to handle. He was almost impossible to track as he varied his influence on his team. He would sometimes come deep to collect the ball and interplay with his team-mates, playing some good long-range passes. However, his pace is one of his key strengths and this played an important role in clinching his hattrick, running in behind the defence. He made a good run and hit a first-time lob past the keeper into the bottom left-hand corner. He made many good runs into pockets of space and was often unselfish, linking up with his teammates well.

The German international is a very instinctive player, always trying to catch his opponents out by hitting first time shots or passes, albeit with varying success and sometimes to the detriment of his own team-mates. All three of his goals were hit first time which shows he has a good awareness for beating the keeper and finding the corner of the net. Although it was clear that his agility let him down on a few occasions, he kept trying to turn into space in tight areas. He never lost confidence to be creative despite trying things which were clearly difficult to execute with varying success, often overplaying.

Werner is brave and not afraid to use his strength to keep the ball despite challenges coming from all around him. He won a few aerial duels too, flicking the ball on well and nearly scored a fourth as his header nearly nestled in the bottom left-hand corner. He had good drive and determination to counter press and intercept the ball on multiple occasions. Even though his work rate was shown continuously throughout the game, he was too aggressive on one occasion, fouling to stop a counter attack. He had cover and was pressuring his opponent into a corner so his challenge was needless, leading to a booking for arguing.

Although some of his finishes weren’t the most eye-catching, Werner was relentless in his endeavour to have a positive impact on the game. He deserved his hattrick for his stellar performance.

Rating – A1

Lukas Klostermann

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: German
  • Age: 23
  • Date of Birth: 03/06/1996
  • Current Club: RB Leipzig
  • Career: VFL Bochum, RB Leipzig
  • Position: Right Back
  • Secondary Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

The German defender had a solid game against Mainz playing as a centre back. He was largely successful in progressing play, feeding the ball crisply into the striker’s feet or lofting a ball accurately across the pitch to spread play. He communicated well with his teammates, indicating assuredness and leadership at the back. He had good concentration and would be well aware of any potential chances for Mainz. He made an excellent tackle when Awoniyi was through right at the end of the game to consolidate a clean sheet. He positioned himself well, often in the right place at the right time to clear the ball out of danger in a few key moments.

However, his performance wasn’t perfect. Klosterman would often use his pace to track his runners but his lack of strength was apparent on the odd occasion. He seemed weak, in particular at the start of the game, when challenging for long balls in behind. Despite this, Klostermann gained confidence to win his duels as the game went on. He became more aggressive and decisive when challenging for headers.

Overall, Klostermann was near perfect in his performance but was rarely tested as he limited Mainz to very few clear-cut chances.

Rating – A2

Dani Olmo

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Spanish
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 07/05/1998
  • Current Club: RB Leipzig
  • Career: Barcelona (Y), GNK Dinamo Zagreb, RB Leipzig
  • Position: Right Wing
  • Secondary Position: Attacking Midfield
  • Preferred foot: Right

Bravery in a tackle, to take a man on and use his body to shield the ball are all very good qualities he showcased. He had confidence to keep possession in tight areas and his passing technique was consistently quality, always having his head up and looking to progress play. He largely communicated well with his teammates, linking up well with them and was also confident to take over possession to drive with the ball. His agility and pace were key in allowing him to turn and drive forward on multiple occasions. He was also confident enough to be creative and innovative on the ball, with clever tricks and flicks up his sleeve.

However, he was prone to being sloppy throughout this encounter. He gave the ball away on multiple occasions, not only because he took risks but his first touch was often poor, indicating a loss of concentration. His decision making was questionable at times, sometimes choosing the riskier option instead of the clearer option, which can be a good thing but needed to execute more.

Despite this, he was usually very calm and composed on the ball and his change of position midway through the second half to central midfield gave him more responsibility. He was wise in his turns into space and his vision was at a very good standard, taking some very good set pieces towards the end too. His work rate was clear when counter pressing and tracking back, and he was aggressive in the challenge.

Rating – A2

Dayot Upamecano

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 21
  • Date of Birth: 27/10/1998
  • Current Club: RB Leipzig
  • Career: Red Bull Salzburg, Valenciennes, RB Leipzig
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Secondary Position: Defensive Midfielder
  • Preferred foot: Right

Dayot Upamecano’s performance was slightly sluggish. He lacked match sharpness and took risks in vulnerable areas of the pitch. Having said that, he did not let this deplete his confidence. Despite giving the ball away on a few occasions, he always tried to move play forward. He dribbled out of defence well in a composed manner and attempted many progressive passes, but was inconsistent in his execution. On one occasion, he controlled a long ball on his chest powerfully to lay the ball off for his team-mate. Yet, on another occasion he lost control and went down under a soft challenge to try and win a free kick in his half, leading to the Frenchman getting booked for picking the ball up while expecting the whistle.

Defensively, he performed well for the majority. He was aggressive when tracking and marking his man, always forcing the opponent away from goal. He did this well whilst not being overly imposing to give a foul away, brave considering a striker could go down in the face of challenging the 21-year-old. He used his pace to recover from allowing a striker in behind him but overall his pace was rarely tested. He has an aggressive mentality and always backs his ability to intercept and stop an attack early, but would foul in a few instances. He rarely needed to use his strength but when the situation arose, he was strong and shrugged off his opponents with ease. He had a good leap too, winning multiple headers and duels.

Upamecano was subbed on the hour which reflects his lack of match sharpness. However, his performance indicates there’s much more to come from the Frenchman.

Rating – A2

Konrad Laimer

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Austrian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 27/05/1997
  • Current Club: RB Leipzig
  • Career: Red Bull Salzburg, FC Liefering (L), RB Leipzig
  • Position: Defensive Midfielder
  • Secondary Position: Right Back
  • Preferred foot: Right

Laimer put in a good shift at right back for the brief period he was on the pitch, before being withdrawn due to an injury just before half time. It was clear he wasn’t fully comfortable playing in a different position, a bit unorthodox at times. However, the confidence the manager bestowed on Laimer reflected well in the Austrian’s performance. He focussed on his strengths, including his calmness to retain possession in tight areas. This was seen when he played Sabitzer in space down the line from a free kick on the right hand side, leading to the second goal.

Laimer worked well with his teammates to help him get out of tight scenarios and was clever to shield the ball whenever he was under pressure, using his balance and agility. Yet, his technique was not always convincing. His ball control let him down, particularly when he had to play the ball quickly after inviting a challenge late in the first half, leading to his injury and forced substitution. He attempted several unsuccessful crosses too but his confidence was never shaken, and this was reflected well when creating the first goal. His first touch was often poor but he was clever to use this to his advantage by driving into space down the right wing, working hard to burst away from his opponents using his pace. His cross was okay, as although his cut back found Werner at the near post, his cross had lots of spin which meant it was difficult to finish.

He was hardly tested defensively but was often soft in the tackle. He worked well with his team-mates to prevent any counter attacking opportunities for Mainz, having good awareness and positioning whilst knowing he lacks physicality. Despite this, you cannot fault his work ethic and endeavour.

Rating: B1

Christopher Nkunku

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: French
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 14/11/1997
  • Current Club: RB Leipzig
  • Career: Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig
  • Position: Attacking Midfield
  • Secondary Position: Left Wing
  • Preferred foot: Right

Nkunku played left midfield, showcasing his versatility. However, he did not spend very much time out wide. He was struggling to get involved in the game early on so he came infield and deep just to get a few touches of the ball. He grew into the game and upon receiving the ball he would drive inside. Once releasing the ball, he would immediately make runs into the box. He did this consistently throughout the game, meaning he was tough to mark and his quick acceleration meant he was difficult to track. He showed good strength and aggression to shrug off his opponent to drive into space.

Unfortunately, his end product for the majority of the game was poor. He was on corner duty and although the quality of his crosses varied, they never reached a teammate. His finishing was also poor and rash, having two clear opportunities on goal from close range. His first went straight at the keeper only a few yards out in the build-up to the third goal. His second shot was just before half time and wide of the mark when squaring it was perhaps a better option.

Despite this, his ability to receive the ball well, using his agility to turn and drive forward from deep led to many opportunities. His interplay was usually very crisp and clever, particularly in the lead up to the fourth goal where he played a lovely back heel flick pass on the edge of the box.

Nkunku was persistent and never stopped trying to have an impact on the game. He worked tirelessly to press the opposition and also to track back, making a few good tackles and interceptions.

Rating: B1

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