It only took a few minutes before the name Erling Haaland was mentioned for the first time. The 3-0 win at the shockingly harmless VfL Wolfsburg was quickly dealt with by the RB Leipzig coach and player. Coach Marco Rose spoke of a “deserved victory” and an “extremely strong team performance” more relieved than euphoric.

Nevertheless, the mood on the journey home to Saxony was probably much better than the rainy, windy and cool weather on this uncomfortable afternoon in Wolfsburg. After the last two games without a win in the Bundesliga, the Leipzig team is back in the top positions, are happy about the return of the sorely missed Christopher Nkunku – and are cautiously optimistic about the Champions League duel with Manchester City and ex-Bundesliga striker Haaland on Wednesday.

Leipzig’s Orban: “Are ready to suffer for 90 minutes”

“We know it’s going to be an absolute challenge, but we don’t stand a chance either. We’ll give it our all and show our qualities on the pitch,” announced captain Willi Orban. “We know it’s going to be brutal, but we’re ready to suffer for 90 minutes.”

The defender stood in front of the reporters in slippers and a padded winter jacket and of course had to answer the question of how to stop this exceptional striker. “It’s too easy to just focus on Haaland,” said Orban, who defeat against Union Berlin a week ago because of his stem cell donation. He praised Haaland as an “outstanding striker with fantastic skills” whose “impact and deep runs are difficult to defend”.

All of these qualities and attributes did not apply to the Wolfsburg offensive. Except for a courageous first quarter of an hour and a little momentum after the break, the hosts did not pose a threat to the Champions League participants. Emil Forsberg (14th minute), substitute Konrad Laimer (85th) and Dominik Szoboszlai (90th 2) shot out the undisputed victory.

Coach Rose: “Nkunku just a quality player”

“You saw very clearly today that we are nowhere near the level of Leipzig. Leipzig is right to play in the Champions League, Leipzig is right up there,” said VfL coach Niko Kovac. In addition to the three and words of praise from the opponent, Nkunku’s return also made for cheerfulness. After a break of more than three months due to a torn lateral ligament, the 24-year-old attacker was substituted on in the 68th minute, which the RB fans and Gladbach’s 2-1 win against FC Bayern, which was shown in the meantime, acknowledged with plenty of applause.

Not only with his big chance in the 81st minute did he immediately show his extraordinary qualities. His presence and ball handling alone should bring back the lightness that was recently missing in the Leipzig game. “It is very, very good for us that Christo is back. It is an individual quality that is rare,” said Rose. “It’s important for us to be more unpredictable on Wednesday, for example at the top level.” Orban said: “He’s just a quality player, you like having him in your team.” This time he meant Nkunku – and not Haaland.