By Oliver Trust
BERLIN, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- Excitement among German fans couldn't be higher when 2017 German Champion Bayern Munich and challenger RB Leipzig are twice crossing swords this week. Pundits are convinced the East German club has developed to a serious rival for the Bavarians. This Wednesday in the German Cup and this Saturday in the national league the two currently best German sides will battle for the country's number one in club football.
Former German international Dietmar Hamann is expecting Leipzig to meet Bayern on eye level. "Leipzig has reached a European top level and will not let Bayern get out of sight," the former Bayern and Liverpool professional commented. Hamann called Leipzig Bayern's challenger number one in Germany.
Former German national keeper Oliver Kahn said he is expecting Leipzig to be the surprise of the 2017/2018 Champions League campaign. "Leipzig is working at the highest possible level of football," the former Bayern keeper stressed.
Kahn recommended other clubs to take a closer look at the 2016/2017 Bundesliga runner-up and adjust their infrastructure and working methods. "Instead of complaining about Leipzig's lack of tradition, they should learn from Leipzig's education patterns and modern game style," Kahn said.
When looking at Leipzig, a constant development is visible Kahn told the German TV station "Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen" (ZDF). Leipzig managed to qualify for the Champions League after its first year in the Bundesliga. Eight years ago the young parvenus played in the fifth division.
Since then Leipzig impressed their opponents with an intense and fast forwarding football not many teams can play.
Max Eberl, sports director of league rival Borussia Moenchengladbach, called Leipzig the most significant challenger for Bayern and Borussia Dortmund. "When it comes to the scouting of players and transfers they have overtaken Bayern already," the former striker emphasized.
Leipzig will be the first of several tight games for Bayern as RB sports director Ralf Rangnick is predicting a much closer game than in the duels before. Ten months ago Bayern could beat Leipzig 3-0 and won the second leg league game narrowly by 5-4. "Back then we were not yet a real opponent for them," Rangnick said indicating times have changed, and this time it won't be a piece of cake for the Bavarians.
After four consecutive victories in the Bundesliga Leipzig is ready to give Bayern a hard time as two controversial ideologies compete. Leipzig stands for a young and modern football using an intense pressing style while Bayern is Germany's most successful and established club.
"We will have to challenge Bayern over entire 90 or 120 minutes," Rangnick commented full of confidence. The 59-year-old said his side has learned to get along with games in a three-day-rhythm. "We can deliver spectacular performances in a shorter period now," Rangnick stressed.
A year ago the team wasn't able to get along when having to play several competitions at the same time. The team has gained additional quality, and experience Rangnick commented. This time his side is ready to face the challenge as the team proofed physical and mental stability when having beating Dortmund and VfB Stuttgart in the Bundesliga and FC Porto in the Champions League within a week. Bayern, Rangnick quoted, is a top team and his side is on its way to close the gap.
To survive games of the Champions League next to the Cup and league games Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl started to change his team's line-up depending on the opponents. "We have much more options now," the Austrian coach commented.
Next to highly talented forces such as Timo Werner, Emil Forsberg, and Naby Keita Leipzig signed the French youngsters Jean-Kevin Augustin (Paris St Germain) and Ibrahima Konate (FC Sochaux), Portuguese midfielder Bruma (Galatasaray Istanbul) and Slovenian Kevin Kampl (Bayer Leverkusen) in advance of the 2017/2018 season.