The end of July is usually a time when sides are working on the training ground to improve fitness, tweak tactics and integrate new signings, but there will be no such luxury for RB Leipzig this season.
After a close season that’s seen the departure of Ralph Hasenhüttl, who led his charges to the Champions League and then the Europa League last term, Ralf Rangnick is back in the hot seat, having agreed to re-take the reins for a season until the arrival of Julian Nagelsmann for the 2019/20 season. Rangnick performed a similar locum job in 2015-16 when he took the heavily-backed club up to the top flight.
But his task this time round appears much tougher. After finishing 2nd in their debut European campaign, Leipzig struggled for consistency last time round, losing 11 games to end up 6th. Hence Thursday’s clash against Swedish side BK Häcken, who finished last season’s league campaign in 4th.
Eyes on the opposition
“We’ve been observing Häcken. We know what to expect and we are well aware that they have already begun playing competitive league football this season,” said Ragnick on Wednesday, referring to the 2018 Allsvenskan, where Häcken sit 10th after 14 games.
“We know they’re a team with a lot of good players, particularly up front. Paulinho for example is one of these high quality attacking players.”
But the Brazilian forward isn’t the only danger for Leipzig, according to Rangnick: “We’re experiencing some very high temperatures, so we need to make sure we prepare well and take our chances.” The temperatures in Leipzig are expected to peak at 35 degrees celsius (95 Farenheit) on Thursday, though should cool a little by kick off at 18:30 local time.