Unlike Leicester City’s heroic dismantling of the Premier League elite, German fans aren’t nearly as enamoured by surprise Bundesliga package RB Leipzig, who top the table after 12 games.
So why are so many people unhappy?
WHY ARE THEY HATED?
Chances are you haven’t heard of SSV Markranstädt, but it’s in the German fifth tier where the tale begins.
Energy drink superpower Red Bull waded in and bought the club’s licence, stripped the entire club of its character – from the badge to the nickname (creatively changed to ‘The Red Bulls) – and set out their ambitious philosophy for new side Leipzig: reach the Bundesliga in eight years.
They did it in seven.
Slapped with a reported transfer budget of €100m (£85m), it’s pretty clear how they sailed through the divisions. But that’s not the only thing that irks fans – they’re also concerned about the damage caused to football’s foundations.
To prevent financial superpowers from ruining the game, clubs in Germany are supposed to subscribe to the ‘50+1 rule’. Basically this allows the fans, those that actually pay to watch the action, control over who is on the board.
Leipzig’s alternative? Charge tenfold what other clubs do, around €800 a year, to become a member. And that still doesn’t guarantee you voting rights.
According to a recent article in the Guardian, Leipzig only have 17 members with voting powers. Seventeen – and the majority are associated with Red Bull. Farce alert.
Florian Bogner (Eurosport Germany): "'RIP Bundesliga' is very popular on Twitter right now. There have already been some fan protests of home fans and boycotts of away fans against Leipzig. In Cologne fans performed a sit-down strike before the RBL team bus which led to a delay to kick-off. On Friday, Leverkusen fans threw paint bombs at the bus which manager Ralph Hasenhuttl reversed by saying: 'One of them missed our front window from two metres distance. Next time he should throw at the side of the bus, because it’s longer'."
Leipzig's players celebrate with their fans after the German first division Bundesliga football match between RB Leipzig and Mainz 05 in Leipzig, eastern Germany, on November 6, 2016.
Image credit: AFP
DOES RB STAND FOR RED BULL?
Obviously, but they can’t explicitly say so due to German rules forbidding teams from being named after their sponsors.
So if you ask anyone official, they will insist it stands for Rasenballsport Leipzig, which apparently means ‘lawn ball sport’. Crafty.
IS IT ALL BAD?
Florian Bogner: "No. They're not just throwing money out of the window; they established one of the best academies in Germany and are already very successful at under 19 and under 17 level."
Leipzig's fans celebrate with football scarves
Image credit: AFP
WHO ARE THEIR STAR PLAYERS?
Florian Bogner: "Midfielder Naby Keita (21) seems to be predestined for a role in the Premier League; Timo Werner (20) has made a huge step forward since joining form Stuttgart; Emil Forsberg (25) is probably the most in form No.10 in the Bundesliga; Youssuf Poulsen (22) and Davie Selke (21) are future strikers and Lukas Klostermann (21, out with an ACL right now) might be the future at right-back in the German national squad after a very good Olympics in Rio.
"A nice thing for them is also that they have a “farm team” in Austria: RB Salzburg (you can probably spot the link). As Klostermann got injured, they easily brought over Brazilian player Bernardo (21) from Austria. A big chunk of their squad have played in Salzburg before."
Leverkusen's Bernd Leno reacts after Leipzig's Willi Orban scored a goal
Image credit: Reuters
DON’T THEY HAVE THAT SCOTTISH LAD?
They do. Oliver Burke, 19, swapped Nottingham Forest for the Bundesliga in a £13 million move last summer – and despite a cheeky request from England, elected to represent Scotland internationally.
Florian Bogner: "He hasn’t had a big impact yet mostly coming in as a substitute (he started just one game so far). He had a heck of a start by assisting Keita’s winning goal against Dortmund in his first game, he scored his first goal in his third against Cologne, but since then he only assisted one more goal.
"You can see he’s very fast and can handle the ball well – but sometimes he just runs with it across the side line… He’s in every perspective very rough in his talent, but they are willing to give him time for his process. You just can’t say right now that he’s top or flop."
Image credit: Reuters
CAN THEY REALISTICALLY CHALLENGE BAYERN AND DORTMUND FOR THE TITLE?
The ‘minnows’ are three points clear following Saturday’s 3-2 comeback win at Bayer Leverkusen, with talk already bubbling about a potential title challenge. Are they the new Leicester?
Florian Bogner: "I think they can – and Bayern/Dortmund think that as well. Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel has already said Leipzig can become the 'Leicester of Germany'.
"I think the Leipzig team is even better in comparison to the rest of the league than Leicester. They already played three Champions League clubs without a defeat: they beat Dortmund at home (1:0), drew with Gladbach (1:1) and beat Leverkusen away (3:2). Their advantage is that they only have Bundesliga matches to focus on (after losing in DFB-Pokal in the first round at second division club Dresden) and have a relentless 'achievement principle'.
"They want to be a top-three club in Bundesliga. Maybe they didn’t plan it to happen this season, but they will take it. So let’s see what happens… They play at Bayern Munich on December 21. It’s a huge game!"