Ralf Rangnick against the European Heavyweights

Ben Wylie

Ralf Rangnick against Europe and Germany's elite

As Ralf Rangnick approaches his first game in the Manchester United dugout, anticipation is building amongst fans worldwide as although the “godfather of gegenpress” is undoubtedly an astute tactician, this is his first job at an elite level club.

Rangnick’s sides have generally been considered underdogs, most notably against Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen and with the German never managing out with his home nation, almost no experience against English opposition is a potential black mark against his name.

Nevertheless, with the decision officially announced earlier this week, let's take a look at Rangnick’s record against the aforementioned German sides, as well his experience in Europe's top competition, the Champions League.

Ralf Rangnick Specials

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Bayern Munich

First up, Rangnick’s most-played opponent and undisputed heavyweights of the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich. There are few if any managers that boast a solid record against the Bavarians and unfortunately for Rangnick, he is no exception.

With a points per game record of just 0.92, the German made a surprisingly strong start to life against Bayern losing his first fixture, but then recording three straight victories including doing the double over them in 1999/00 whilst in charge of Stuttgart.

In his time at Hannover, Rangnick again held a respectable record against Bayern drawing three of the five times they met, however, never recorded a victory. In 2004/05, Rangnick led Schalke to home and away wins with the former courtesy of a free kick from star man Lincoln in the Brazilian’s standout season, contributing to 22 goals.

A slight thorn in the side of Bayern by this point, Rangnick’s luck against the Bavarians seemingly ran out, as since victory with Schalke in 04/05, the German is winless in the past 12 outings with his last fixture a bitter 3-0 defeat in the 2018/19 DFB Pokal final whilst at RB Leipzig.

Ralf Rangnick Specials

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Borussia Dortmund

Unlike Bayern, Rangnick took seven attempts to beat Borussia Dortmund, eventually winning 1-0 in the 2004/05 season where his Schalke side ended the league in second. Prior to this, Rangnick had suffered six straight defeats against the side, including a catastrophic 6-2 loss in front of the Yellow Wall, however, the German’s record slightly improved, only losing five in the next 11.

Rangnick’s best result against Dortmund was a 4-1 victory whilst managing Hoffenheim in a game that supposedly opened now Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp’s eyes to the philosophy of gegenpressing, with no real elaboration needed on the value of that lesson for Klopp.

Although not posing the best overall record against Dortmund, Rangnick will have fond memories of fixtures against BVB, with a goalless draw and a 4-3 win on penalties during his second spell in charge of Schalke delivering the sole German Cup of his career.

Bayer Leverkusen

With Bayern Munich and BVB generally considered the standout sides in German, Bayer Leverkusen are often overlooked despite being fierce opponents, fittingly nicknamed 'the Eternal Bridesmaids'. Rangnick initially struggled against Leverkusen, losing six of the first eight fixtures against the club and although then going unbeaten when managing Schalke, faced the opposition just three times.

Whilst in charge of Hoffenheim, it took the German five attempts to even pick up a point against Leverkusen, being robbed three points by a late Gylfi Sigurðsson penalty in his last outing against the side before heading to Leipzig.

Although only facing Leverkusen twice whilst managing RB Leipzig, Rangnick boasts a 100% record with a 3-0 away win and an enthralling 4-2 home victory in the 2018/19 season. Despite recent successes, a 1.0 point per game record shows Rangnik often came out second best against Leverkusen.

In the Champions League

In terms of Champions League football, his inexperience is an understatement, with Rangnick only managing 10 games across his two spells at Schalke. In 2005/06, Schalke failed to get out of the group despite winning eight points against AC Milan, PSV Eindhoven, and Fenerbahçe.

Fast-forward five years and Rangnick returned to Schalke ahead of a quarter-final tie against reigning champions Inter Milan. In unexpected but mesmerising fashion, Schalke emerged 5-2 victors at the San Siro with now Liverpool defender Joel Matip and legendary forward Raul amongst the goals, and then winning the return leg 2-1 to set up a semi-final against Manchester United.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side ultimately had too much quality for the German outfit, winning the tie 6-1 on aggregate and ending Rangnick’s time in Europe’s top competition. In a strange coincidence, Rangnick will manage his second consecutive Champions League fixture at Old Trafford when the Red Devils welcome Young Boys, with the United faithful hoping Rangnick’s fortunes will have changed when they face the Swiss champions in a must-win game.

All in all, his record in Europe barely exists, but a semi-finals run and wins over Inter with Schalke speak for themselves.


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