“This game can give us a boost,” believes RB Leipzig coach Marco Rose after the win at Red Star. His team passed the test in the “Marakana of Belgrade”. But there remain construction sites.
This victory was important for the Leipzig lawnballers. Important for your own self-confidence after two recent defeats. Important for your own Champions League aspirations. And even crucial for overwintering in the premier class. The people of Leipzig were correspondingly happy. “It’s awesome,” said Emil Forsberg happily after the 2-1 win at Red Star Belgrade.
A back four brings security – and dominance
The Swede was allowed to serve as captain in Serbia and praised his team after the game: “I’m very proud.” After a hard-fought and close second half, coach Marco Rose said with relief: “Now I’m free.” RB showed a calm and offensively impressive performance in the “cauldron” of Belgrade, especially in the first half. Rose switched the defense from a three-man back to a four-man chain, which gave Leipzig more access and dictated the tempo and action from the start.
Rose: “Need to be cleaner”
Xavi’s early goal (8th) could, and indeed should, have been followed by more in the first half. But RB also missed their best chances and were unable to convert 17:2 shots on goal – including five top-class players – into goals. After the game, in addition to the joy of reaching the round of 16 in the Champions League, the dominant theme was taking advantage of opportunities: “We saw things that we can do better. We have to be cleaner,” explained Rose.
“Man of the Match” Openda: “That’s not enough”
“We had a lot of chances, but only scored two goals. That’s not enough,” added Lois Openda, who himself missed two big chances before the break and was annoyed: “Normally I score these goals. Next time, I’ll try the game to decide sooner.”
Because Belgrade switched in the second break and gained more access to the game on the wings, Leipzig had to tremble for a long time. Even after Openda made it 2-0 (77′), who was also voted “Player of the Game”, there was no peace. After making it 1-2 thanks to an RB own goal, keeper Janis Blaswich had to make two more brilliant saves to secure the win. “We really needed another goalkeeper at the back. We put up a big fight,” said Rose.
Forsberg: “Everything was just great”
And that, according to Forsberg, could be the most important takeaway from the game: “In situations like this, passion and mentality are important. And we have that now.” While RB has regularly given up games in opposing European Cup stadiums with a big crowd in the past, Leipzig were able to use the atmosphere to their advantage this time: “Everything was just great. Rain, atmosphere and a battle victory,” laughed Forsberg. For Rose, it’s a test of character that can “give his team a boost for the next few weeks.”