Game of Numbers #20 – Konrad Laimer’s box to box engine

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By their incredible standards, Bayern Munich have had a tumultuous season. Julian Nagelsmann paid the price for a slip in form at the start of the new year, but Thomas Tuchel has not been able to get the Bavarian giants back to winning ways on a consistent basis. This has opened the door for Borussia Dortmund to potentially win the title, and has led to some shock results along the way. One of the most shocking came this past weekend, with Tuchel’s Bayern losing by a commanding 3-1 score-line to this season’s inevitable third place finishers, RB Leipzig. It wasn’t necessarily who they lost to, as Leipzig are a fearsome opposition, but the manner at which they lost – lacking ideas and attacking support at every turn.

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Nevertheless, Leipzig deserve credit for their performance. Leading the charge for Die Roten Bullen was their midfield engine Konrad Laimer, who bossed the game through his effervescent energy. Laimer never stopped running all game long, and played a massive part in the stunning victory. With that, here is Game of Numbers #20, with Konrad Laimer at the forefront.


Within Konrad Laimer’s box-to-box role, he played a pivotal part in the team’s defensive structures. Leipzig typically defended in a 4-2-4 shape, working to form diamonds at every end of the pitch. At the front of the defense, that often meant that Laimer found himself responsible for completing the base of the diamond, and shutting down the half-spaces on his side.

That mitigated space for Bayern to play immediate short passes into the likes of Goretzka and Kimmich out from the back, but it did open space for the likes of Müller and Musiala to seek behind the Austrian.

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Fortunately, on those occasions, Laimer was always incredibly quick to race back into his position. In fact, both the Austrian midfielder and his partner Amadou Haidara coped well with the rotation from Müller and Musiala as they scoped out the gaps.

This was one of his strongest assets all afternoon – buzzing about the pitch, hungry to win every challenge. He pressured quickly any time the opposition had their eyes focused on the ball, and he pressured quickly any time the opposition had time to get their heads up and exploit space.

According to FotMob, Laimer won 7 of his 12 tackles in the match, and made 10 recoveries. Wyscout had his defensive duelling rate at 10/15 (67%), and 3/4 for loose-ball duels (75%). Essentially, his drive to motor around the pitch often either caused Bayern to slow down the attack, or resulted in a change of hands altogether.

Importantly, he was able to turn his defensive pressure and tackling into several great moments for attacks. As soon as he or his teammates won the ball, he was always quick to race forward. This came into effect on the equalizing goal that set Leipzig on the track toward ecstasy, where he won possession, motored forward, and eventually scored a brilliant goal.

Many midfielders would have simply held their position in the box, continuing to adopt a defensive stance. But not Laimer. The Austrian gambled as soon as he saw the potential, and ended up scoring from his desire to anticipate the moment. This continued all match long, with Laimer acting as a constant gnat that simply would not wilt away.


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If you’re confused about why Bayern and Leipzig decided to swap colours for the match, so are we! But thankfully, Konrad Laimer never had any confusion with the matter. He transferred his energetic engine over to the attacking side of the game from that same forward-thinking mindset. Any time he saw space to shimmy inside, he took the chance, whether or not he was ever going to receive or not.

There were many great moments where Laimer’s movement simply opened up space for others, such as this great overlap on Dominik Szoboszlai, helping to create space for the Hungarian to shoot.

Not all of his passes came off with the same class as his movement, but he remained a key cog in Leipzig’s ability to shift the ball, switch the play and keep possession. Often forming a 2+2 box build-up (2-4-3-1 low on the field), Laimer was one of the main men in possession of the ball for Die Roten Bullen.

But again, all of Laimer’s best moments came in transition, where he was able to win the ball and immediately surge forward. There was a lovely moment where he sprayed an outside of the boot pass in behind for Christopher Nkunku, and many other moments where his pace on and off the ball caused headaches.

The Austrian midfielder has been linked with a host of clubs throughout his Leipzig career, and could still earn a big move elsewhere if he desires. But for now, the 25-year-old continues to play a pivotal role in RB Leipzig’s success under Marco Rose. Tremendous credit to Leipzig for their big win over Bayern, and a sincere thank you to the likes of Konrad Laimer. I may never cheer for Leipzig so visibly ever again.

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