By Barry Whelan, dpa
Berlin (dpa) – RB Leipzig stay top of the Bundesliga despite a first league defeat since October but whether they can stay at the summit will become clearer in the next few weeks.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side next face third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach at home before trips to second-placed Bayern Munich and fifth-placed Schalke.
Nagelsmann seemed to think his players needed to mentally improve following a 2-0 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt if they want to play any further role in the title chase.
The 32-year-old, who likes holidaying in the mountains, is clearly not happy with the current view from the top in a weekend in which Bayern, Moenchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund all won to tighten the gap in the leading four.
“The question is: do we want to reach the summit cross or do we stop briefly underneath and enjoy the beautiful view,” Nagelsmann told Sky television after his side’s defeat and before Bayern’s 5-0 hammering of Schalke.
“We’re still at the top, but if we want to reach 100 per cent of the summit, we still have a lot of work to do. I don’t know if every player has understood that.”
Nagelsmann said he detected in mid-week a lack of commitment and drive in training.
“It’s not so easy on the pitch if you do not go to the limit in training,” he said.
“I’m just concerned with the last few percentage points. You have to put your finger in the wound every now and again. We are not at Bayern or Dortmund’s level, that’s why we have to use every minute of training to get closer to Bayern or Dortmund.”
Bayern took full advantage of Leipzig’s slip to move within a point of Nagelsmann’s side, and Thomas Mueller, who scored his 100th goal at the Allianz Arena, said the Leipzig result was an added incentive against Schalke.
“After the Leipzig result, we might have had a bit more of an edge,” he said.
“Usually there is only the 100 per cent (effort), but today it was maybe two or three per cent on top.”
The performance also pleased coach Hansi Flick, who said: “It is crucial that we got the three points today. It must give us even more more confidence.”
Gladbach’s 3-1 defeat of Mainz leaves coach Marco Rose’s side third, a point behind Bayern, while Dortmund have begun the second half of the season with 10 goals in two games – following up the 5-3 win at Augsburg with an impressive 5-1 defeat of Cologne.
New signing Erling Braut Haaland again grabbed the headlines following his hat-trick on his debut against Augsburg with two more goals against Cologne in another appearance as a substitute in the second half.
It almost goes without saying that his five goals in his first two games and in a total of 56 minutes on the pitch are Bundesliga records.
“The beginning’s been quite all right,” defender Mats Hummels said with a large portion of under-statement.
The question now is will 19-year-old Haaland start for the first time when fourth-place Dortmund greet Union Berlin on Saturday?
Only coach Lucien Favre can answer that, but Hummels in confident Haaland will continue to make a mark.
“If you see how he works every day, there is a very good chance that he will continue like this,” he said. “I really like his approach to work at that age.”