AP NEWS

Previously unbeaten Leipzig smarting after 2 losses at home

October 3, 2019
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Lyon's Youssouf Kone, left, and Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku challenge for the ball during the Champions League group G first round soccer match between RB Leipzig and Olympique Lyon, in Leipzig, Germany, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
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Lyon's Youssouf Kone, left, and Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku challenge for the ball during the Champions League group G first round soccer match between RB Leipzig and Olympique Lyon, in Leipzig, Germany, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)

BERLIN (AP) — Leipzig’s upward trajectory under coach Julian Nagelsmann has been halted after two losses in five days, both of them at home.

Defensive blunders and poor finishing were to blame for the 2-0 loss to Lyon in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Schalke’s efficiency led to a 3-1 result in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Previously unbeaten Leipzig had been leading the league but now finds itself among five teams one point behind Bayern Munich. The pressure is on for Saturday’s visit to Bayer Leverkusen.

“I don’t want to make it a bigger issue than it is, but to lose two games in a row is not good,” Leipzig midfielder Emil Forsberg said. “Also the way we lost them is not good. We have to recharge the batteries and look forward now. We don’t have any alternative.”

Nagelsmann is refusing to panic, despite whistles from some Leipzig fans both at halftime and after the fulltime whistle against Lyon.

“It’s not a downward trend,” the coach said. “I see rather a problem with efficiency.”

Timo Werner missed two chances the Germany striker should have taken against Lyon, while bad defensive mistakes from Ibrahima Konaté, Dayot Upamecano and Nordi Mukiele led to the visitors’ goals.

“Altogether we didn’t play a good game,” Werner said. “But there are two points: We made two mistakes at the back that you cannot make. Up front, myself in particular, we didn’t take our chances. That’s how you lose a game.”

Werner, himself 23, defended his teammates, however.

“The guys are 21, 22 years old. You can make mistakes. I don’t believe that Boateng or Hummels didn’t make mistakes when they were 22,” Werner said, referring to the former Germany defenders.

Leipzig has won all five games it has played away from home this season, so Saturday’s trip to Leverkusen could be just the tonic it needs. From the three previous visits there have been two wins and a draw.

Leverkusen also likes to keep the ball, which should suit Leipzig’s counter-attacking style if it can cut out the defensive mistakes. Both teams have 13 points and Leverkusen will also be eager to make amends for its 3-0 loss at Juventus on Wednesday.

“It wasn’t completely terrible, but it wasn’t good enough,” Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky said of his team’s second loss in two Champions League games.

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP