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Mainz 0-5 RB Leipzig Scout Report: Marcel Sabitzer inspires emphatic victory

By Daniel Finton (Chief Editor)

As this Coronavirus induced time of adversity fortunately seems to be slightly easing up, the world’s game, football is beginning to return. The Bundesliga has returned already and La Liga is set to start back up again on 8th June. Furthermore, the Premier league has had a start date leaked of 20th June. Dani Ceballos was the one who confirmed the return date of the English division in an interview by accident, and now us football supporters know when to expect the English premier league’s proceedings to begin once again at long last.

I’m not going to lie though, as a guy who has not typically made time for any other football as of recently, it feels really good to watch again. Since the Bundesliga has returned, myself, as well as others, have figured out two things. The first of which being how football of any country, in any division is captivating and a beautiful watch in its own quirky way. It’s weird that it took a halt in proceedings for many, including myself to realize that. Prior to this, I was taking football always being there for granted. The second being, how quality the Bundesliga, itself really is. The chief editor of the site, Alfie Culshaw said it best in a few of our podcasts now. He rightfully claims the German top flight is home to some of the best players (old and young), and also the most progressive managers in the world's game.

The manager who spearheads the race for being the most progressive manager in the division, and a man who the chief editor argues is the best manager in the world is that of Julian Nagelsmann. The 32-year-old RB Leipzig manager who turned Hoffenheim from relegation battlers to a Champions League side is now at the helm of the 3rd, formerly 5th place side in the division and saw his side in the quarter-finals of the Champions league as well, prior to the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, his side fell short to Freiburg, earning a 1-1 draw on the day and they consequently saw a two place drop from 3rd.

Despite this, Leipzig’s next match to Mainz was a favourable one, and one that they undoubtedly should and did end up taking 3 points in. Prior to the match Mainz sat 15th, with the second worst defensive record in the division, having let 55 goals trickle into the back of the net this season. The reverse fixture saw Leipzig humiliate Jurgen Klopp’s former side 8-0.

Because of this favourable fixture, I felt as though it would be best to assess an attacking player. The player which I chose does not get the credit he deserves and given his fruitful season, which has seen him score 8 goals and bag 5 assists before the Mainz game, this is completely unjust. The player which I kept a close eye on was Marcel Sabitzer. The 26-year-old, 41 time capped Austrian international has had a tremendous season this year in the Bundesliga, and also in the Champions league.

Most notably to Arsenal fans, he scored a brace at home against Spurs in the round of 16, knocking out the tiny North London club and booking Sabitzer and co a spot in the quarter-finals of the prestigious competition. Each of his goals in the fixture were typical ones that would come from the newly coveted “mezalla” position. The first being an audacious shot from outside the box and the second being an “Aaron Ramseyesque” late run where he poked home a header that just crossed the line. Arsenal have evidently lacked goals since Ramsey left for Turin, and Sabitzer is certainly one who can provide that threat.

Sabitzer and Leipzig as a whole were incredible on the day and managed a comprehensive 5-0 victory. While there were a number of standout performers on the day, Sabitzer was exceptional. The Austrian managed a pre-assist, an assist and a goal. For the pre-assists he found his fellow countryman, Konrad Laimer on the right, who then delivered a pin point cross to Timo Werner to open the scoring. Sabitzer’s 6th assist of the campaign came when he dinked a cross and picked out the noggin of Leipzig’s “battering ram”, second striker, Youssuf Poulsen, with a brilliant cross from the right hand side. Finally, the 26-year-old managed a goal of his own, smashing the ball into the top right hand corner after he himself won the ball in the midfield earning him his 9th goal of this Bundesliga season.

Along with Sabitzer’s direct goal contributions came an overall assured performance too. He made the 3rd most passes of the game completing 64/71 contributing to Leipzig's emphatic 65% possession statistic at the end of the match. He also ended the game with a 92% passing success rate in the final third.

He also managed to 2 key passes on the day, completed 4 crosses, 3 shots, and made an emphatic 10 ball recoveries. So, compiled with his eye for a creative pass also would come a massive workhorse presence in the midfield as well. Sabitzer was absolutely everywhere on the day, making defensive contributions along with attacking ones. The fact that he managed the most ball recoveries AND the best passing percentage in the final third from the match accentuates how savvy he is on both sides of the pitch.

Sabitzer would be a glorious signing for the gunners. Admittedly, he is in a well-oiled machine and was possibly made to look even better with Kevin kampl next to him, who was also superb on the day, but there is no denying Sabitzer is one of the central figures to Leipzig’s system.

He would be well suited to a possession oriented side and is willing to put an incredible amount of work. In fact, the Austrian sits 22nd in terms of most distance covered this season in the Bundesliga (272.4 km), and that is despite his phenomenal positioning. Those two attributes would see him heavily admired in the Premier league and I’m sure he would take English football by storm.

How difficult it would be to lure Sabitzer away from Arsenal is worth asking though. Leipzig are an incredible team, and Nagelsmann is a ridiculously good manager. Champions league football every season is far more attractive than being part of a project when one is at the peak of their career like the Austrian is. Nevertheless, I think he might find the new challenge enticing. A host of European cubs have shown interest, but Liverpool and Tottenham have shown the most. He would be an absolute coup if he went to either of the aforementioned sides, therefore Mikel Arteta should look to add him to the fold at Arsenal because he would be an even bigger coup for us. I'm not sure how much he would cost, but he would be the ideal Ramsey replacement plus a bit more talent wise.

Keep an eye on Sabitzer for the rest of the season and Leipzig as a whole. They are a phenomenal side with an abundance of equally brilliant players. We're going to be linked with like all of their players because they're good, so get to know them.

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