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RB Leipzig. 100% is not enough! about the most powerful fooball club in (East only?) Germany

РБ Лейпциг

In the rest of Germany RB Leipzig is treated like any government — not everyone clearly understands what it does, but it has to be ready for responding to all the sins coming from different sides. However, after just 9 years of existence, the club has proved the professional competence of those who manage the money that the owner of the company Dietrich Mateschitz once so uncertainly gave to football.

For 35 million euros you can ask to cut half of the Hulk (as FC Zenit St. Petersburg did in 2012), and you can recruit a team from the perspective legionaries in order to resale it. RBL does not do either. In East Germany, unlike the western part, there are still many undeveloped territories perishing in vain, and the club draws its exclusive history on an absolutely clean sheet of paper. Those who do not like RB Leipzig out of a sense of solidarity with traditional German clubs, may stop reading right now. Those who cares to understand why RBL coach Ralph Hasenhüttl unlike Roberto Mancini does not complain about a bad transfer campaign, it is better to continue this process. Because for the 35 million mentioned above Red Bull club has built the academy through the water surface of Elsterbecken directly opposite the main arena of the city. And it is the best in Germany. In the opinion of those who do not think like that about a new FC Bayern base.

The RB Leipzig base is quite small in area. It occupies only 6 hectares

The building itself looks exactly the same as the buildings on the Munich Saebener Strasse. And I was expecting to see something huge, fleeing into the fields, into the haze, behind which lies the neighbor town of Halle. But it turned out to be just several fields, one block, a red bull and the sun, as it should be, on the facade. At the entrance there are a dozen bicycles, a couple of them with a rusty chain. A far-fetched greatness? Entourage, not more.

In Russia, perhaps, serious sponsors would not be surprised by such a modest approach. But Red Bull has too mighty double bottom for evaluating it only by the shine of the can. The building is designed so that in order to reach from any entrance to the building a desired room one shall walk no more than fifty meters. The philosophy of RBL both on the field and in life is the same — the time is too valuable to be spent on a tripe. For the same reason, almost all the walls inside are transparent so people working there do not spend a second on knocking and pseudo-intellectual inquiring: "Oh, have I accidentally interrupted your chatting in a social network?". If Ralph Hasenhüttl, for example, is looking for a colleague from U-19, he quickly understands what he is doing without resorting to calls and demands of immediately appearing in front of him. Does not he respect simple modern technology? No. Another part of the Leipzig philosophy is communication.

Easy logistics of movements within the base allows RBL employees and players to be very efficient in their work

The gyms are located above the patio, two, facing each other. One is for the professionals and another one is for the "academicians", the players of youth teams. "Small ones” should see the goal which is the main team. They should dream of how they will be worked with. "Oldies", on the other hand, have no right to escape from the views of competitors who are ready at any time to break into the main team. To make sure that Emil Forsberg or Nabi Keita do not seem like puppet dolls to the young players, there is one recovery apparatus in the youth team hall, where a football player, a real one of meat and bones, of the main team can come at any moment. It is arranged that way so when the future Werner sees this person, he can forget the black spots and continue to twist the pedals of the static simulator towards his goal.

A special chamber for restorative procedures, in which, in front of the young players, Nabi Keita himself can lie down

In addition to football stars, it is also a stadium. Red Bull was thinking about building a new arena, but everything is quite well being built into the framework of club ideology. From any training pitch of the academy you can see the main stadium on the other side of Elsterbecken. On foot to it from the training field in Cottaweg it will take one just fifteen or twenty minutes. But for someone from the "academicians" the whole life would not be enough to get to the Red Bull Arena.

Red Bull Arena is visible from every training pitch of the Academy. Young players need to see where they want to play one day

In the process of stadium constructing in Saint-Petersburg were involved a lot of different parties, which sometimes forgot to ask the main renter what the football club needs. Architects working on Red Bull projects did not have, for obvious reasons, extensive experience of cooperation with football clubs. And that's why the Sports director of RBL Ralf Rangnick and his team spent a lot of time on builders consulting, thanks to what not so long ago having been well-ordered city of Leipzig will very soon become known in the whole world.

Technologies are different. There are those that simply create a new for the sake of the new, there are those that make life easier for millions of people. RBL already in the coming years wants to produce "spacemen" able to run like Timo Werner, think like Emil Forsberg, control the corps like Nabi Keita and orientate like Marcel Sabitzer. Some clubs did not manage to boast of a new generation of simulators, developing the speed of thinking and the technique of football players, as Red Bull have already ordered a bot that no one else has.

The first photo of a special development for the Red Bull academy

Round room with wall-monitors. You come in, they close you. Under your feet is an artificial lawn of the right generation. On the sides one can see a reproduction of any RBL match, on his head can be fixed a special device that allows to see with the eyes of Werner, Keita, Augustin and so on. A person can make his own decisions in any simulated situation, sending the ball to the wall with the force with which he wants to get back. You send it clumsily and it will return to you the same way. If you push a ball too slow then you will not get it back. This development was dictated, again, by the club philosophy and understanding of what should be the RBL football — it is not scary to lose the ball by risking to deliver it, as quickly as possible, to the opponent's goals. It is important to immediately return it back without spending too much energy. And this can be done only if the signal from the head to the feet comes at one fingers click. According to the plan for such exercises (the device is still being tested) one will spend no more than 20 minutes since the invention require the highest level of concentration. The following RBL slogan: "100% is not enough!". It is automatically accepted by everyone who enters the club academy.

The corridor through which guest teams go out to play with the youth team of RB Leipzig are decorated with special plates. The bulls running towards you are too real in order not get nervous

Obviously, even if Leipzig players start thinking faster than computers, they can properly manage their thoughts only by developing their body's capabilities to the required level. In the basement there is a treadmill with artificial grass covering, along which the sensors are installed every five meters. Does Leipzig mean speed? Certainly. And what is speed? Is the player quick when jerking for ten meters, or does his explosive power drop after five? How to determine what is needed for a particular football player, especially if his role and the requirements for indicators vary?

Ralph Hasenhüttl considers if he should extend the contract with the club, which ends in 2019. Red Bull gives a lot, but it requires a lot as well. It is needed to develop yourself infinitely and to find the opportunity of every morning repeating: "100% is not enough". For especially difficult days at the RBL base five psychologists work at once speaking not only to players of all ages but also to the coaching staff. Of course, it's not about lying on the couch and admitting that in spare time one wants to look for pornography on the Internet. Coaches receive recommendations on how to work with different types of players, to behave in stressful situations (certainly, it refers to communication with the media). Players can be called by a psychologist regardless of the situation. Separation like "you are crazy and you are normal" does not exist. And the psychologist's office is the only place where there are no transparent walls, and it should not even be knocking on its door.

Rooms for the academy players at the Leipzig base

It is vital for young players to have a personal space. Therefore, the base employees do not have the keys from the entrance to the wing where the "academicians" live. Football players and their families should have the opportunity to be alone and live independently without supervision. By the way, they live in rooms of 20 square meters with shared bathrooms for two rooms. In this case, each room has a TV with the right satellite channels allowing to watch any football match. The club management believes that young men are obliged to watch it, otherwise it will turn out that in addition to the stars spinning a bicycle in the gym, they have no other visible goals. One hundred percent is not enough, right?

"Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee." This, and many other slogans, instead of advertising, hang over the training pitches of the RBL base. My generation can be annoyed from the childhood with a saying "pioneer is an example to all the boys", but creating an atmosphere that supports the common path requires even unobvious little things. Ability of hard working is primarily based on motivation, otherwise you risk becoming Oleg Shatov. In Leipzig it is served in any form, in ready-made and raw. Chambers over the training fields are not just a kind of protection from the grandmother who accidentally let her rottweiler run away. Training is recorded on video, immediately counts technical and tactical actions, cuts are created for every player of any age. Eight video analysts are busy around the clock just because the numbers are, in fact, the main immediate motivation of the athlete.

Is everything at the Red Bull Academy extra expensive and too shiny? Something, like a station where you can become Timo Werner, is. Something, on the contrary, is pretty obvious, like that tail is always behind. For example, a hill for running up and down, which develops different muscles of the hip, can be made by any football club. But it only exists in Leipzig. For some reason.

The city is going through an amazing time — since the Berlin Wall collapsed, there was not a team with high ambitions here. And this strongly influenced the level of preparedness of young players, whom the multi-layer scout network of RBL collects not only from distant countries and regions, but also from Leipzig and the nearest villages. But even those who previously did not want to see anything except   Lok Leipzig or Chemie Leipzig were already accustomed to the club. In return, people from RBL admit that modest clubs which capabilities are unlikely tallow them to rise above the regional league, prepare football players in all the better way.

Huge by German standards the land of Saxony long waited for those who will take responsibility. Including for the upbringing of children. Philosophy, which goes without saying, of the Red Bull academy stands on three powerful paws: sport, school, social development. The last one implies gaining the ability to press a button on a washing machine, not to put there a mix of black and white, having elementary culinary skills and comprehensions of the simple basics of communication with people of different prosperity, religion and, perhaps, political views. Here, perhaps, RBL is not alone — Germany does not want players, who did not manage to play on professional level, to wander from 16 years on stations. And that to this age they could not see the boundary between "good and bad".

This track allows one to know everything about the sprinter qualities of players

There is a set of rules in the academy that all those who pass through its doors should follow. If even the most talented striker sat down to dine in the dining room wearing a hat, he would be kindly asked to remove it. There are also rigid requirements for nutrition. Coke is not recommended, although there are exceptions. Once a week one may drink it, so that after the age of sixteen a guy, who has not managed to make his way into football, did not begin to absorb it with boxes. But at other times, please: grain bread instead of white one; no cow's milk, only lactose-free and without gluten; instead of the usual sugar there is a special version of it, a little more expensive. And the most important paradox of this football club: there are refrigerators with the famous energy drink int the base corridors, but you can not drink it under German law until you reach 16 years. And if it was possible, then it is still full of that most harmful sugar. To those who do not like RBL, this moment will seem as another sign of hypocrisy.

But it is too late to make anything in a different way. Germany is gradually reconciled to the fact that it has RBL. The project which, as you can see, has nothing in common with the fairy Leicester City. Dietrich Mateschitz does not regret that back then he did not bring his club to Duesseldorf, where he would be cramped in the midst of the traditional clubs that Rhine Westphalia is proud of. And where, most likely, the need of residents in such an institution would be much less.

The case of one club’s owner is unusual for the Bundesliga. And even dangerous, because the empire of the name of one person can suddenly collapse, or he might become a leader unable to control both the environment and his own ambitions. Dietrich Mateschitz seems to have passed the checks without leaving the way back to those whom he tamed. If something goes wrong, Leipzig will hardly breathe with a sigh of relief.

Text: Ivan Zhidkov 


Translated by Yulia Kartashova

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