Julian Nagelsmann says his RB Leipzig club are ready to take over Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich this season as they prepare for Saturday’s trip to Mainz.
“We’re still within striking distance (of Bayern) and want to keep attacking,” said Leipzig coach Nagelsmann.
Mainz are currently sitting second-from-bottom and have been winless in their last nine games but gave a shocking two-goal lead before losing 5-2 to Bayern three weeks ago.
However, Nagelsmann says his team were “incredibly mature” on Wednesday against the solid defense of Union Berlin, which eventually cracked in Leipzig’s 1-0 home win.
Ten minutes into his cameo appearance on Wednesday, Emil Forsberg combined with Dani Olmo to unpick the Union defence with great footwork.
Nagelsmann dubbed the pair “phonebox kickers” for the close-quarters skills which led to Forsberg’s winning goal, and the Swede could feature at the weekend.
Bayern meanwhile are at bottom side Schalke on Sunday with goalkeeper Manuel Neuer chasing a league record at his former club.
On Wednesday, Neuer equalled Oliver Kahn’s record of 196 Bundesliga clean sheets.
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They have won their last two league games, but were lucky to get a 1-0 victory at Augsburg on Wednesday after Alfred Finnbogason hit the post with a late penalty.
“We had to fight tooth and nail at the back,” admitted Neuer after his first clean sheet in the league since October.
Bayern boss Hansi Flick admitted that “it’s been a long time” since his side has dominated matches as much as last season, wherein they won the treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup titles.
At the halfway stage of the campaign, Schalke are level on seven points with Mainz, 10 away from the guaranteed safety of 15th place.
American striker Matthew Hoppe, 19, will try to test Neuer after grabbing headlines by scoring five goals in his last three games.
The Royal Blues have beefed up their attack by bringing back Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
The 37-year-old Dutch veteran who netted 126 goals for Schalke from 2010 until joining Ajax in 2017, hopes to shake off a calf strain to face Bayern Munich on Sunday.