Sat, 17 Apr 2021

By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, Feb. 28 (Xinhua) -- RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann couldn't hide his feelings the moment the three points were in the bag.

The 33-year-old let out a bloodcurdling scream from the side of the pitch after his team had turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 win in a crucial encounter against Borussia Monchengladbach.

Only two points behind leaders Bayern Munich after 23 matches, the east German side is developing into the country's No. 2 outfit ahead of established rivals like Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, Moenchengladbach, and VfL Wolfsburg.

After promotion to the Bundesliga in 2016, the club is increasingly in with a shout of winning a title. Next to the Bundesliga, Leipzig is eying success in the German Cup.

Now that favorites Bayern have already been knocked out, the cup provides the best opportunity to win some silverware.

Options in the UEFA Champions League might be low for Leipzig after their 2-0 first leg defeat against Liverpool in the last 16, but last season's Champions League semifinalist still remains on track in all other competitions.

The passionate coach is keeping calm despite the success they are currently enjoying. He refused to lay down a challenge to league leaders Bayern.

With a smile on his face, he said: "Winning games is enough of a challenge for us. That's the best answer to all you journalists trying to get additional headlines."

In contrast to some recent league campaigns, Leipzig has changed its approach. "We don't talk about what we can get to; we do things step by step," Nagelsmann added.

Despite the new strategy, the team's figures remain impressive.

Having only let in 20 goals, they rank second in terms of goals conceded, bettered only by Wolfsburg's figure of 19.

31 points at home make them the league's leaders in that respect, and their 11 clean sheets is also unmatched.

15 different scorers indicate Leipzig has, to a certain extent, made up for the loss of striker Timo Werner, who left for Chelsea last summer.

For the first time this season, Nagelsmann's team turned a 2-0 deficit into a win, showing just how much the team has improved. "We are managing things much better than in the past. The will to win games, no matter how hard they might be, is driving us forward," Nagelsmann said.

TV pundit and Germany's record international Lothar Matthaus praised Leipzig's development. "They have learned their lesson and their game has improved significantly. The team has grown up," Matthaus said.

Alexander Sorloth, the scorer of the decisive goal again Gladbach, cautiously spoke about this season's chances. "Yes, we can dream about the title. We have got character and fighting spirit. Why shouldn't we think about more?" the Norwegian striker stated.

Having won six of its last seven league games, Leipzig is back in business.

"We know about the great opportunity next Wednesday when we meet Wolfsburg in the cup quarterfinals, but it'll be tough," said Nagelsmann, admitting to having learned that being too candid is not always a good idea.

Meanwhile, Leipzig is going about its job without making overtly ambitious statements. "It doesn't make sense to say we gunning for Bayern," said chairman Oliver Mintzlaff. "We are sticking to our goal of qualifying for the Champions League again. Everything else is a welcome extra."

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