On Saturday afternoon (15:30 CEST), RB Leipzig will head to Augsburg for a top of the table clash against second-place FCA. For several RBL players, it will also be a reunion with an old friend.
Rani Khedira played for RB Leipzig from 2014 to 2017. He then made the move to Augsburg, where he has become a key player for them in the Bundesliga.
In an interview, Khedira spoke about his time in Leipzig and offers his predictions for tomorrow's match against his former side.
Rani, first of all, congratulations on your strong start to the new season!
Not many people would have predicted that you'd get off to such a strong start. How do you explain why things are going so well for you at the moment?
We have a strong team spirit within the squad, both on and off the pitch. We also had a good pre-season during which we thoroughly analysed last season.
We had a bit of luck in our season opener against Union Berlin. The three points we took from them gave us confidence.
After nearly seven months of playing behind closed doors at home, we then picked up a well-deserved 2-0 win against Borussia Dortmund. In my opinion, we're deservedly near the top of the table. However, we know that this is only a snapshot in time.
You played for RB Leipzig from 2014 until 2017. Are games against your former club still emotional for you?
To be honest, the game itself doesn't really have any particular importance for me, because this will be the seventh time that I'm facing RB Leipzig. Most of the players and staff from my time are also no longer here. However, I'm still looking forward to seeing a couple familiar faces again.
Who at Leipzig are you still in touch with?
Back then we were a crew of four guys with Timo, Sabi and Diego. In addition to me, two of those guys have also left. Sabi is still here and is captain now and we're still in touch.
Sabi and I actually spoke on the phone on Monday. Since he likely won't travel to Augburg this weekend, it was a longer conversation during which we spoke about the old days, but also about some current topics.
Do you remember any nice moments from back then that still stick out to you?
I recently found an old photo of the two of us where we're celebrating our promotion to the Bundesliga. That really brought back some good memories for me.
You were promoted to the Bundesliga with Leipzig. What significance does your time at Leipzig have in your professional career so far?
I was 19 when I came to Leipzig, and it was essentially the first time I'd been away from home. It was definitely a pretty important step for me. I was also lucky back then to work under an extremely talented coach in Ralf Rangnick. I was able to learn a lot both as a player and as a person during that time.
So the best thing on Saturday would be a draw for old time's sake, or what would you prefer?
Leipzig are definitely the favourites but of course I'd love to win. We know that we're up against a top-quality side, one who made it to the Champions League semi-final last season. Depending on how the game goes, I'd also probably be happy to settle for a point. But, and I'm repeating myself here, of course we want to win at home.