RB Leipzig: Can Red Bull-backed club upset Bayern Munich?

    Story highlights

    • RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich Wednesday
    • Many German fans unhappy with Leipzig model

    (CNN)For the past 20 years, Bayern Munich has enjoyed a near-monopoly of the Bundesliga title.

    Bayern's 13 German league crowns and periods of dominance over the last two decades have only been briefly interrupted by title successes for Borussia Dortmund, Wolfsburg, FC Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart -- the latter two of which are currently second division sides.
      But now a new club is threatening to upset German football's established order -- RB Leipzig. And on Wednesday, the young upstart team -- RB stands for RasenBallsport (meaning "Lawn Ball") -- meets Bayern, with the two clubs level on points at the top of the Bundesliga.
      Leipzig's success has naturally drawn comparisons to Leicester City's unlikely Premier League title win last season.
      "2016 was a great and unforgettable year for the whole club," said Leipzig's Director of Sports Ralf Rangnick this week, reflecting on a year which has seen the East German team make an immediate mark in the Bundesliga following its promotion.
      While those comparisons with Leicester are arguably wide of the mark -- Leipzig was only formed in 2009 and is backed by Red Bull's billionaire founder Dietrich Mateschitz -- Bayern's midfield conductor Xabi Alonso believes there are some similarities.
      "At the moment, yes (they are doing a Leicester)," Alonso told CNN's Alex Thomas. "At the moment they have a very clear idea of how they want to play.
      "They play one game a week, they are in such a good mood, have so much confidence," added Alonso. "I hope not, but at the moment they are on the same run."

      50+1 rule

      Playing in the German fifth division as recently as 2009 -- then as SSV Markranstadt before Red Bull's takeover -- Leipzig's rise hasn't been greeted with the same feel-good factor that surrounded Leicester's success.
      What has really irked the rest of German football fans is Leipzig's intuitive approach to the Bundesliga's mandatory "50+1" rule.
      The rule, implemented in 1998, was introduced to ensure clubs' members retain a majority of its voting rights to protect against the influence of external investors.
      By way of comparison, Borussia Dortmund has nearly 140,000 members who each pay an annual fee of around €60 ($62). Leipzig, however, has just 17 members and charges an annual fee of €800 ($831).
      In reality, while still technically abiding by the 50+1 rule, it barely applies -- especially since the majority of its 17 members are Red Bull employees.
      Rangnick has previously insisted Mateschitz's primary motivation is to give "young, talented sportsmen the chance to develop,' and Bayern's head coach Carlo Ancelotti is also prepared to give the club the benefit of the doubt.
      "They are doing really well, they came up from the second division, they started the season a little bit worried but now they have enthusiasm and are playing very well," the Italian said. "They are winning all their games.
      "I think behind there is a good job of the club, I think they found the right people, the right manager, the right players and most of this is the enthusiasm they have in this moment."
      Leipzig, however, isn't the first German club to receive backing from a wealthy organization. Ingolstadt, Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim all previously followed that path and have been dubbed "plastic clubs."

      Fall of Berlin Wall

      Although Leipzig's structure has caused resentment, it's worth considering that its promotion to the Bundesliga was the first time an East German club had made it into Germany's top flight since 2009.
      Sport in former communist East Germany was heavily state sponsored and once the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the money stopped.
      The idea that there would be proportionate representation of East German clubs in the Bundesliga never came to fruition, and stopped altogether when Energie Cottbus was relegated in 2009.
      With a huge lack of industry in the East, there is also a lack of sponsors. Many stadiums in East Germany are in poor condition compared to the West's heavily-sponsored and newly-renovated stadiums.
      RB Leipzig has drawn criticizm for its structure but thrived in the Bundesliga.
      Leipzig's stadium was the only one to get a facelift for Germany's 2006 World Cup.
      Leipzig as a city, however, has a long football history. It's the birthplace of the German Football Federation and the VfB Leipzig was Germany's first title winner.
      While Wednesday's clash may be too early in the season to bill as a title decider, Leipzig's trip to Munich could well provide an opportunity to ruffle a few more feathers.