RB Leipzig Profile

Year Founded 2009

RB Leipzig are an anomaly in the modern European game, forming relatively recently in 2009 and rising through the divisions quickly with significant backing to become a new force in German football.

RB Leipzig are a German football club based in Leipzig, Saxony, which plays in the Bundesliga - the top tier of German football. While only founded in 2009, they have enjoyed an unbelievable rise to the upper echelons of European football. In 2019/20, they made the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

Some of the notable players to star in RB Leipzig colours in recent years have been Angelino, Timo Werner, Naby Keita and Dayot Upamecano.

Leipzig play their home matches at the Red Bull Arena, which has a capacity of 42,959. They are nicknamed Die Roten Bullen and managed by Julian Nagelsmann, who is widely regarded as one of the most talented young coaches in world football.

Early (recent) history

The first ever squad assembled for RB Leipzig in 2009

Red Bull GmbH searched for three-and-a-half years for a suitable location to invest in German football before throwing their lot in with Leipzig.

In 2006, they made their first attempt, planning to invest in financially struggling Oberliga side FC Sachsen Leipzig. However, the DFB, German football's governing body, rejected the proposed name "FC Red Bull Sachsen Leipzig" and fan protests led to Red Bull officially withdrawing their plans.

Contact with FC St. Pauli and Fortuna Dusseldorf proved fruitless, as there was discomfort with the level of influence which Red Bull wanted to have upon the clubs.

Red Bull decided that it would be best to invest in an already established club, set up to suit the company's vision. They finally struck a deal with SSV Markranstadt, a small club from a village near Leipzig, acquiring their Oberliga playing rights and ensuring they did not have to start from scratch with their new club.

RB Leipzig chose the name RasenBallsport Leipzig e.V. to ensure they complied with DFB regulations. They would not have been able to use the name "Red Bull", as they did with the names of their clubs in other countries, but with the initials RB, their brand was still recognisable.

RB Leipzig acquired four junior teams from Sachsen Leipzig, who had not found a long-term solution to their financial troubles. This ensured they met Oberliga regulations and that Saxony did not lose its young talent.

Four promotions in seven years

RB Leipzig started out in the Oberliga in 2009/10, immediately winning promotion to the Regionalliga Nord. Here, they spent three seasons, finishing fourth and third in their first two before winning the league without losing a single match in 2012/13. They therefore moved up to the 3. Liga, winning promotion to the 2. Bundesliga at the first attempt.

The German Football League (DFL) was now responsible for licensing upon Leipzig's promotion to the 2. Bundesliga, rather than the DFB. Leipzig found themselves in a legal battle with the DFL over Red Bull's heavy involvement in the club. Eventually, a compromise was reached. The club had to redesign its crest to avoid excessive similarity with Red Bull's and they had to ensure their management was independent from Red Bull GmbH.

In 2014/15, RB Leipzig finished fifth in the 2. Bundesliga. The following season, they finished second and won promotion to the top flight.

Some of the players who starred for RB Leipzig in the lower echelons of German football remain important figures in the game today. Joshua Kimmich left Leipzig for Bayern Munich in 2015 after spending two years with Die Roten Bullen. Meanwhile, striker Yussuf Poulsen, who also joined Leipzig in 2013, remains on the club's books to date.

RB Leipzig and the Bundesliga

RB Leipzig made an immediate impact in the Bundesliga, finishing as runners-up to Bayern Munich in their first season in the competition, 2016/17. The signing of Timo Werner from VfB Stuttgart proved a masterstroke as he netted 21 goals.

Since the nation's reunification, Leipzig were the first German Bundesliga debutants to qualify for Europe. They earned their place in the following season's UEFA Champions League.

Leipzig finished sixth in the 2017/18 Bundesliga. In May 2018, head coach Ralph Hasenhuttl resigned after his contract was not extended. He was replaced by Ralf Rangnick for the 2018/19 season and would in turn be replaced by Julian Nagelsmann thereafter. At the time, Nagelsmann was in charge of 1899 Hoffenheim.

Leipzig finished third in 2018/19 and again in 2019/20. The '19/20 season saw Werner bang in an impressive 28 Bundesliga goals, second to Robert Lewandowski in the league's goalscoring standings. He left for Chelsea following the end of the campaign. The 2019/20 season will also be remembered for Leipzig's sensational run to the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League.

While Die Roten Bullen have yet to win a Bundesliga title, they look set to put up a significant challenge to the establishment in the division in the coming years.

Progress in Europe

RB Leipzig players celebrate a goal in the Champions League

In 2017/18, Leipzig were drawn into Group G of the UEFA Champions League with Besiktas, FC Porto and AS Monaco. Leipzig finished third, meaning they dropped to the UEFA Europa League for the remainder of the campaign.

They eliminated Zenit St. Petersburg in the Europa League round of 16, but were knocked out by Marseille 5-3 on aggregate in the quarter-finals despite winning the first leg 1-0.

In 2018/19, RB Leipzig finished behind Red Bull Salzburg and Celtic in UEFA Europa League Group B, meaning they were eliminated from the competition.

The 2019/20 campaign under Nagelsmann was notable for their heroic display in the Champions League.

It began with Leipzig topping a group which included Olympique Lyon, Benfica and Zenit St. Petersburg. Having marched on to the last 16, they made light work of Tottenham Hotspur in a 4-0 aggregate triumph.

After the COVID-19 pandemic delayed most of the knockout rounds of the tournament, Leipzig played a one-legged quarter-final tie against Atletico Madrid. They won this closely-fought encounter 2-1 with Dani Olmo scoring the opener and Tyler Adams clinching the tie after Joao Felix's equaliser.

However, Leipzig were no match for Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-finals and lost 3-0 to Thomas Tuchel's men.

Club rivalries

Due to RB Leipzig's short history, all rivalries are in the budding stages. However, their ownership structure has not been universally welcomed in German football, which means that they find themselves the target of disdain from some quarters.

That aside, they have developed competitive rivalries on the pitch with top German clubs such as Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund as they compete for honours against them.

Leipzig's fanbase

A ground view of Red Bull Arena, home of RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig had 41 supporters clubs as of May 2018. The Red Bull Arena's first sell-out crowd for a Leipzig match was in the third round of the DFB-Pokal as Leipzig took on VfL Wolfsburg. The game was attended by 43,348 spectators.

Leipzig's support was notably impressive even when they were in the lower leagues of German football, climbing the ladder. A total 16,864 spectators watched their 4-2 Saxony Cup final win over Chemnitzer FC in 2012/13.

The fanbase of the club has steadily grown throughout the club's rise to the top of the German game.

Club finances

Between promotion to the Bundesliga in 2016 and the 2017 financial year, RB Leipzig experienced financial growth of 82%, as per the calculations of Forbes.

Leipzig have raised significant sums of money through player sales. Naby Keita's move to Liverpool and Timo Werner's to Chelsea were, between them, worth over €100million.

RB Leipzig News