Football Features

Mainz 0-5 RB Leipzig: How Nagelsmann’s “campfire” turned up the heat on Lewandowski and Bayern

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 19:30, 24 May 2020

RB Leipzig put on a clinical display as they ran out comfortable 4-0 winners at Mainz 05 this afternoon in the Bundesliga.

Julian Nagelsmann’s youthful side proved to be too much for their relegation-threatened opposition, who could only muster two shots on Péter Gulácsi’s goal.

Club stalwarts Timo Werner, Yussuf Poulsen and Marcel Sabitzer were among the goals as Leipzig put themselves firmly in the race for a place in next season’s Champions League.

Here are five things we learned from this encounter.

1. Werner is back

Timo Werner could very well be playing his final games for RB Leipzig, with speculation of a summer departure (notably to Liverpool) not letting up. If he is going to say goodbye then what better way to depart than by finishing as the Bundesliga’s top-scorer. As things stand, only the German forward stands in the way of Robert Lewandowski winning a third consecutive Torjägerkanone and fifth overall.

The Stuttgart-born marksman had gone into this afternoon’s game on a three-match drought, having last scored in late February at Schalke 04. That streak was broken in the 11th minute when he produced a typical instinctive finish to sweep the ball past Florian Müller.

He’d add two more after the break to complete a third hat-trick of this campaign and his second against Mainz, who must now be sick of him. In fact, this feat — two trebles against the same team in a single season — hadn’t been done since Ulf Kirsten against Borussia Mönchengladbach in 1998/99. With seven matches remaining this season only three goals separate Lewandowski and Werner, this battle will go down to the wire.

2. Mr. Leipzig on hand

Four years after its founding, RB Leipzig signed Danish forward Yussuf Poulsen and they’ve never looked back. It has been a beautiful marriage. He more than anyone symbolises what this club represents. “He always pushes himself beyond his limits, and embodies dynamism, desire, and a willingness to learn. When he can’t do anymore, that’s when I know he has absolutely nothing left in the tank,” was how Poulsen’s former manager Alexander Zorniger summed him up.

This, if anything, has made him the perfect foil for Werner and they have to date combined for 19 goals, the most Poulsen has shared with a teammate. So on the day of his 250th appearance for Leipzig — a milestone no one has reached in club’s history — it was inevitable he’d be among the goals. After doubling their lead, Poulsen would tee up the returning Marcel Sabitzer, third on the club’s all-time appearances list, to make it 3-0 before thinking quickly on his feet to set up Werner’s hat-trick goal.

3. Burning bright

“A candle and a campfire are, per se, the same thing – fire. But the candle goes out when there is a headwind,” wunderkind coach Julian Nagelsmann said about the significance of their 8-0 win over Mainz earlier this season. “The campfire really starts to burn and burns more. The headwind is coming extremely. But we’re not a candle, we’re a campfire.”

On today’s showing, his side were back to their relentless best after enduring a three-match winless streak that saw them register just three points. Before that barren spell, they’d bag eight goals across two Bundesliga matches and this game marked the 15th occasion this season where Lepizig registered a minimum of three goals in a single game.

More impressive was their club record for most Bundesliga goals (66) during a season being smashed. Nagelsmann’s men are on 68 strikes with 630 minutes of league football left to be played and with them only being seven points back on leaders Bayern, who next face Borussia Dortmund, a late championship push is very much possible.

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4. Home (not) sweet home

It’s looking more and more likely this empty stadium period has neutralised the home advantage. We only have 17 games to look at and though drawing any statistical conclusions would be premature, there seems to be something brewing. Only three home sides were able to pick up all three points – Borussia Dortmund (v 4-0 v Schalke 04), Hertha Berlin (4-0 v Union Berlin) and Bayern Munich (5-2 v Eintracht Frankfurt) – with 10 of those wins going to the visitors.

So, in these unprecedented times, many sides are becoming increasingly creative, some adding “spectators” among the empty seats while Mainz today choose to pump in crowd noise. Their usual chants were heard loud and clear but it didn’t produce the desired result, though credit where it’s due regarding the realism as when Leipzig’s third goal went in the ‘booing’ and ‘jeering’ was deafening.

5. A tale of two strikers

While one centre-forward was enjoying his day another toiled, as Mainz were simply overwhelmed by the Leipzig machine. Karim Onisiwo had the difficult task of leading Mainz’s line, especially with Dayot Upamecano back in the fold after serving a suspension. Onisiwo, with four goals to his name this season, was reduced to 21 touches and lost possession seven times, more than anyone on the field. As he watched his opposite number Werner attempt no fewer than eight shots on goal, Onisiwo couldn’t manage a single effort. A bad day in the office.

Other games in the Bundesliga today:

  • Schalke 04 0-3 Augsburg: David Wagner will be feeling the heat after suffering another humbling defeat as Schalke manager. The Royal Blues have now gone nine Bundesliga games without a win and were reduced to just two shots on target by Augsburg, who themselves ended a six-match winless streak. Eduard Löwen, with a spectacular free-kick, Noah Joel Sarenren Bazee and Sergio Córdova were the scorers.
  • FC Köln 2-2 Fortuna Düsseldorf: FC Köln snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat against Fortuna Düsseldorf who held a 0-2 lead heading into the final two minutes. Kenan Karaman and Erik Thommy gave them a seemingly assiable lead before Anthony Modeste and John Cordoba struck late on.

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