In their third friendly of the 2019/20 pre-season, Die Roten Bullen ran out as 2-0 winners in scorching conditions in Markranstädt. In a game divided into three halves of 45 minutes, new signings Ethan Ampadu and Ademola Lookman made their debuts in front of a crowd of 3,057 fans.
The game started at a lively tempo, with both teams looking to exploit the space in the outer channels in search of an early goal. RB Leipzig were particularly active on the left flank, spawning a myriad of close chances.
Timo Werner crossed in after a mazy run but was unable to find strike partner Matheus Cunha in the middle, while new signing Christopher Nkunku, looking lively in his first start for the club, headed over after more good work on the left-hand side. At the other end, Rennais had a slew of corners early on, but solid and robust Leipzig defending nullified their threat. A final chance before the first water break saw Nkunku blaze over the crossbar after impressive individual play.
The game resumed in a similar fashion, with plenty of action taking place on either flank. Werner latched on to the end of a through ball to break through the Rennais back four, but quick opposition pressure forced him into miscuing his shot. Just seconds later, Kevin Kampl flashed in another dangerous ball from the left flank, but no-one in a white shirt was able to get the important touch in a sea of flailing limbs.
RB Leipzig had their best chance towards the end of the first third. Christopher Nkunku demonstrated expert footwork to dance past multiple challenges in the Rennais box, before finally being brought down. Marcel Halstenberg stepped up to take the resulting penalty, but a great strike was followed by an even greater save from custodian Tomáš Koubek to keep the scores at 0-0.
Striker Yussuf Poulsen came on for Tom Krauß and Willi Orban replaced Ibrahima Konaté as the second third got underway. The visitors had the first major chance, going through one-on-one on the Leipzig goal, but a mesmerising double save from goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi somehow kept the scores tied, albeit not for long. Two minutes later, Die Roten Bullen took the lead. Nkunku whipped in a delightful free-kick from the right flank, with the newly substituted Orban on hand to rifle home a first-time shot, putting Leipzig 1-0 ahead. As the sun beat down in Markranstädt, the tempo of the game began to slow down, with RBL content to sit back and conserve possession and energy.
Another water break this time saw an array of new arrivals entering the field of play, with RBL’s latest signings, Ethan Ampadu and Ademola Lookman, making their club debuts. Lookman’s substitution in particular helped to kick RBL into life, with the 21-year-old constantly switching flanks and creating chances. His cross from the right-hand side on the 75 minute mark could have seen Leipzig double their advantage, but Jean-Kévin Augustin couldn’t reach far enough to get the decisive touch. Rennais, meanwhile, were far from out of the match, and hit the crossbar with a looping effort as the second third drew to a close.
The final third saw Tom Krauß re-introduced into the game for Eric Martel, as the setting sun cast a long shadow over the Markranstädt pitch. Augustin immediately went close as he broke free in front of goal, but his shot was well-parried by the Rennes keeper. Rennais continued to press, and should have equalised when they shot at goal, but a brave sliding challenge from Orban blocked the ball on the line. Ethan Ampadu saw an effort from long distance fly over the bar in the closing stages, while Augustin and Poulsen both fell to their knees as they watched their shots blaze wide of the target.
As the full-time whistle beckoned, Poulsen received the ball in front of goal and shot under pressure, but his effort struck the crossbar and agonisingly failed to fall into the net. It mattered little in the end, as the Dane finally got his goal in the final minute, tapping home from two yards to secure a 2-0 win, RBL’s second victory of the pre-season.
- "We had plenty of really good chances to score, but we missed too many of them today. We've got to be more clinical in our competitive fixtures, of course. All in all, it was still a good performance.
Stade Rennais gave us a good friendly due to the way they played - sitting deep and looking to counter. Those are the kind of tactics we'll be expecting to face in the Bundesliga this season.
Ethan Ampadu had a few really good moments and a couple of not so good ones. He will do us a lot of good. Ademola Lookman did very well in attack. We can still be more stable in defense, but that's normal. We'll enjoy playing against similarly deep-lying opponents."
RBL Starting XI:
Gulácsi – Konaté (46' Orban), Werner, Nkunku, Cunha, Mukiele, Halstenberg, Laimer, Demme, Kampl, Krauß (46' Poulsen)
RBL from 70':
Mvogo (115' Schreiber) – Saracchi, Orban, Ampadu, Klostermann (115' Hartmann), Ilsanker, Martel, Sabitzer, Augustin, Lookman, Poulsen
1-0 Orban (52'), 2-0 Poulsen (134')
Halstenberg missed penalty (42')
3,047 in the Stadion am Bad