Four Things We Learnt as RB Leipzig beat Borussia Mönchengladbach
Loïs Openda celebrates his goal against Borussia Mönchengladbach. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

RB Leipzig's win means they move within one point of Borussia Dortmund in fourth place, who could only manage a draw against VfL Wolfsburg.

Conversely, Borussia Mönchengladbach slump to fourteenth position, just two places above the Relegation play-off as the Foals’ struggles in 2024 continue.

RB Leipzig started brightly, taking just 14 minutes to open the scoring, and did so through Xavi with a volleyed effort.

Leipzig pushed hard for a second, but Gladbach’s goalkeeper Moritz Nicolas made it difficult. A second would eventually come from Loïs Openda after a lengthy VAR check. 

The atmosphere in Leipzig was sombre for the majority of the game, following announcements from both clubs that two supporters lost their lives. 

  • Xavi should be Leipzig’s priority target in the summer transfer window

Xavi arrived last summer on-loan from PSG who had just re-signed him from Dutch side PSV. 

He hit the ground running for Leipzig, scoring in Gameweek 2 of the Bundesliga as they ran riot against VfB Stuttgart. 

Since then, the 20-year-old has racked up six goals and seven assists in the Bundesliga, including a brilliant volley which sailed past Nicolas in the Gladbach goal.

With the departure of key players Dominik Szoboszlai and Christopher Nkunku, a lot of reliability was lost. 

At times this season, Leipzig have not been anywhere near the level of quality that they are capable of. 

As Dani Olmo has been reintegrated into the starting eleven following his injury, he has not quite been reaching the standards he set last season.

A lot of reliance therefore has fallen on Xavi to provide those moments of individual brilliance when Openda or Benjamin Šeško are not firing on all cylinders, as was the case earlier this week.

The young midfielder has hinted previously that he would be open to staying in the Heldenstadt, Leipzig have to ensure they can convince him that is worth sticking around beyond the conclusion of this season.

  • Gladbach’s struggle in 2024 continues

Both sides share a similar problem, in that they both had to navigate an almighty rebuild in the summer.

The difference being Leipzig have the advantage of corporate backing and the large amount of money made from selling key players. 

Gladbach did not strengthen their squad in January and spent a modest amount on the signings they made in the summer, after key players departed for a small fee (Jonas Hofmann) or for nothing (Marcus Thuram, Ramy Bensabaïni, Lars Stindl).

This has had a bearing on results after the Winterpause, as Gladbach have won just one game and scored two goals in their last five matches.

The Swiss head coach is having to juggle the absence of injured Czech striker Tomáš Čvančara, who has been ravaged with injury issues since his arrival, but still managed to find the back of the net four times in 13 league outings. 

The lack of depth in the side is showing, a problem which has also had a role in the emergence of talented midfielder Rocco Reitz and led to Seoane handing a senior call-up to 19-year-old Shio Fukuda, who made a short cameo off the bench this weekend.

Robin Hack has also been deployed up-front alongside Jordan to cover for the injured duo of Alassane Pleá and Čvančara, but has failed to find the back of the net since his brace against VfB Stuttgart last month.

  • Leipzig are still in the hunt for a top-four spot

RB Leipzig had an awful start to the Rückrunde, and looked to have severely damaged their prospects of finishing in a top-four spot at the end of the season.

They lost three out of four games after the restart, winning for the first time against struggling Union Berlin.

Last week, FC Augsburg held Marco Rose’s side to a 2-2 draw, before their disappointing display against Real Madrid earlier this week.

Fortunately for Rose, Leipzig are not the only team in the league dropping points. The aforementioned result in which Dortmund dropped points against Wolfsburg means they are in the mix for the Champions League places.

Leipzig will need to rely on more than fortune though, as VfB Stuttgart have appeared to have fully shaken-off their stuttering start to the second half of the season and are unlikely to slip down the table.

The trip to Bayern Munich may be seen as an opportunity for a massive win, considering the Bavarian giants’ struggle to consistently perform this season.

One thing is for certain, Leipzig have to shed their inconsistent performances and as shown today, find a way to make their possession count and be more clinical in front of goal.

  • Borussia must win crunch-match against Bochum next week

For a while it looked as though Gladbach were coasting to a steady, unremarkable mid-table finish in what was clearly a season of transition under a new head coach.

However, the lack of goals and therefore three points has been a major problem since the Christmas break, and now find themselves just six points above Köln in 16th.

The importance of next week’s clash is due to Bochum occupying the position below, and the distinct possibility of leapfrogging Gladbach with a win. 

It is also worth mentioning that 1.FC Köln have looked more stable since the arrival of Timo Schultz and 1.FSV Mainz’ third manager of the season, Bo Henriksen, led his side to three points in his first game in charge this weekend.

Which is not good timing for Seoane’s side. The fixture list sees Die Fohlen take-on Bochum next, before a visit to Mainz and a local derby against Köln after that.

The DFB-Pokal Quarter-final against 1.FC Saarbrücken was postponed, and is now scheduled to be played just three days after the Rhine derby.

Gladbach cannot afford to let themselves drift ever-closer to the bottom three.

Bochum’s visit must be seen as an opportunity for an all-important three points, rather than the pressure to win against clubs who are desperate for more points on the board.

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