Julian Nagelsmann to RB Leipzig : A perfect match?

Hoffenheim boss Julian Nagelsmann has been linked with the Arsenal boss
Nicknamed 'Baby Mourinho', the Hoffenheim boss has taken Bundesliga by storm helping relegation battling Hoffenheim qualify for the Champions League for the first time in the club's history.
Annmay Sharma

Taking the reigns of relegation battling Hoffenheim at the age of 28, Julias Nagelsmann has had quite the story ever since. By winning half of the games in the remainder of his appointment season, he kept Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.

The real test would be his first full-length season. Surpassing all expectations ,he helped the team finish fourth and qualify for the UEFA Champions League for the first time in the club's history.

Who is Julian Nagelsmann?

Julian Nagelsmann stared his playing career as a centre-back in the Augsburg FC academy at the age of 14. He then moved to 1860 München and played there for four years. He rose through the ranks of 1860 München and caught the eyes of his first club. He was all set for a move to Augsburg FC at the age of 20.

However, he was forced to retire from playing after persistent injuries and his father died around the same time. At one point it was almost too much for him to deal with and he considered quitting football altogether. He took up Business Administration in college for four semesters. But, the absence of football was a huge void for him eventually and he transferred to sports sciences.

A young Julian Naglesmann trying to take on Sandro Wagner.

Julian Nagelsmann would then move to coaching. He was still under contract at Augsburg. The then- Augsburg coach, Thomas Tuchel recognised the tactical mind Nagelsmann had and asked him to become his 'opposition scout'. This reignited Nagelsmann's passion for the game at a time when he considered leaving the game and having nothing to do with it in the future.

Nagelsmann then moved to Hoffenheim in 2010 and was given the duty of co-coach of the U-17 side. Two and a half years later, as a 25-year-old, he was promoted to assistant coach during the 2012-23 season. During his time as assistant coach, former keeper, Tim Weise described him as a 'mini Mourinho'. He then took over the Hoffenheim U-19 squad where he won the U-19 Bundesliga title in the 2013/14 season

Julian Nagelsmann's big calling would come on 11th February 2011. Huub Stevens resigned as head coach of Hoffenheim due to health issues and Nagelsmann, who was to start his tenure in 2016/17 season, took over as head coach. It was not an easy task as he took over in the middle of a relegation battle where Hoffenheim where 17th.

However, by winning seven of the remaining fourteen games, Julian Naglesmann managed to steer Hoffenheim away from relegation. He continued his amazing work in the next season by finishing 4th. The 4th place finish meant Hoffenheim secured Champions League football for the first time in the club's history.

Tactical philosophy

With the vast list of achievements as a student of sports and training sciences, it is no surprise that Julian Nagelsmann has an excellent tactical knowledge. His style is built more around the players rather than the system. “In coaching, 30 per cent is tactics, 70 per cent social competence,” Nagelsmann told German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in August 2016.

He doesn't consider formations to be a helpful way of looking at the game but is a big fan of using data to inform his tactical decisions. One revolutionary area of micromanagement he looks at is marking and how long players spend unable to receive the ball. Let's have a look at his last two seasons.

Julian Nagelsmann used a 3-1-4-2 or a 5-1-2-2 formation. The interesting dynamic of this formation is the use of a square like formation up front with two central midfielders behind the two strikers. The two midfielders often drift wide and give assistance to the strikers, this free roam authority has allowed Kerim Demirbay to trouble defences.

Up front, the partnership of Sandro Wagner(now, of course, playing for Bayern Munich) and Kramaric proved to be highly successful with Sandro Wagner able to hold up the ball creating space for the midfielders to come forward and often winding up at the end of the counter.

The system was fluid and fast-paced. The players had to be tactically intelligent as well to achieve success under this system. They executed the plan with perfection and finished 4th and 3rd in the last two seasons.

How will RB Leipzig benefit from this move?

On 21 June 2018, RB Leipzig announced that Nagelsmann will be their manager from summer 2019 and has agreed to a four-year contract which will expire in 2023. Since the club was founded in 2009, RB Leipzig has grown into a strong contender in the Bundesliga after two strong seasons in Germany's top league.

Under Ralph Hassenhüttl, RB Leipzig finished 2nd in the 2016/17 season - the best ever first season by a new side in the Bundesliga. However, the Austrian had never coached in European competitions before, let along The Champions League.

This inexperience adversely affected the team as they were knocked out in the group stages. Furthermore, the congestion of fixtures from all three tournaments saw a poor run of form from RB Leipzig. In contrast, Julian Naglesmann is an experienced European campaigner, managing Hoffenheim in The Europa League as well as The Champions League.

Naglesmann is a training ground innovator and a true revolutionary. Hoffenheim are one of only two clubs (Borussia Dortmund is the other) to use the Footbonaut training centre, where balls are hit to players at speed to improve their control and decision making, and this summer he erected a video wall at the club’s training ground.

RB Leipzig have a young squad with an average age of 24. The use of such technology during training will help the players improve their game and learn exactly where they go wrong on the pitch.

Sebastian Rudy, Nicholas Sule and Roberto Firmino are just a few players who have peaked under the management of the young German. He is also credited with the conversion of Kevin Vogt from a central midfielder to a centre back. RB Leipzig have a talented crop of players - Timo Werner, Emil Forsberg, Marcel Sabitzer, Bruma and Jean-Kévin Augustine, just to name a few. Under Naglesmann, these players could reach their full potential and give RB Leipzig the boost they need in their quest to become one of Europe's top clubs.

Edited by Zeeshan Ali


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