RB Leipzig will look to move into second place in the Bundesliga table, when they face off against bottom feeders SC Paderborn at the at the Red Bull Arena.
RB Leipzig will be aiming to usurp Borussia Dortmund’s place in the Bundesliga standings, when they welcome relegation-threatened SC Paderborn to the Red Bull Arena on Saturday afternoon.
Leipzig have blown hot and cold since the restart of the campaign, winning and drawing two games each so far. Last week saw Julian Nagelsmann’s side come back from a goal down to defeat 1. FC Koln 4-2 away from home. Just two points below second-placed Dortmund, who play later on Saturday, Die Roten Bullen can take their spot in the table with a win.
SC Paderborn, on the other hand, come into the game on the back of a 6-1 mauling by Borussia Dortmund last week. Steffen Baumgart’s side have collected just 19 points from 29 league outings. They are nine points away from safety and with just five matches left, relegation seems a very strong possibility at this point.
The reverse fixture, played in November last year, saw Leipzig beat Paderborn 3-2, despite a second half fightback from the bottom-dwellers. And ahead of the latest meeting between the two teams this weekend, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
The hosts will be boosted by the return of defensive mainstay Marcel Halstenberg, who will be back in contention after serving out his suspension. However, RB Leipzig will continue to be without forward Yussuf Poulsen, while Kevin Kampl and Ethan Ampadu also remain major doubts for the game.
Nagelsmann is likely to revert to a three-man backline on Saturday, with Lukas Klostermann, Dayot Upamecano and Halstenberg shielding seasoned campaigner Peter Gulacsi in goal. Nordi Mukiele could drop out of the starting lineup as Christopher Nkunku, who scored in the last game, is likely to slot in as the right wing-back, while Angelino is a certain starter on the opposite side.
The two-man midfield unit will once again comprise of stand-in captain Marcel Sabitzer and Konrad Laimer. The former, who has scored nine goals and assisted seven more in the league this season, will be key for Leipzig with his forward forays from the centre.
January signing Dani Olmo scored his first goal for Leipzig on Monday against Koln. He is likely to be retained in one of the right flank, with Patrik Schick also set to start, after his goalscoring performance last time out. Timo Werner will spearhead the RB Leipzig attack.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Gulacsi; Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Nkunku, Sabitzer, Laimer, Angelino; Olmo, Werner, Schick
Paderborn will welcome back midfield mainstay Klaus Gjasula, after he missed the Borussia Dortmund clash with a suspension. However, Steffen Baumgart is likely to be without the services of defenders Luca Kilian (match fitness), Sebastian Schonlau (ankle) and winger Gerrit Holtmann (match fitness).
Having fielded a five-man backline last time out, the manager is likely to revert to the 4-4-2 formation that he has largely used this season. 26-year-old Leopold Zingerle ought to continue in goal. He will be in for another busy night, after having let in six goals last time out.
Mohammed Drager and Jamilu Collins should continue as the full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively. At the heart of the Paderborn defence, trying to contain the threat of Timo Werner, will be Uwe Hunemeier, who scored against Dortmund, alongside captain Christian Strohdiek.
The returning Gjasula should walk right back into the Paderborn midfield against Leipzig. Alongside him will be 22-year-old Sebastian Vasiliadis. With Holtmann a doubt for the fixture, Kai Proger is likely to start on the right wing. Christopher Antwi-Adjei, who posed a bit of a threat going forward against Dortmund, should continue on the left.
Streli Mamba, who has now gone 12 league matches without scoring, will be looking to break that rut this weekend. Partnering him should once again be Dennis Srbeny, who has netted five times since arriving in January.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Zingerle; Drager, Hunemeier, Strohdiek, Collins; Proger, Gjasula, Vasiliadis, Antwi-Adjei; Mamba, Srbeny
- RB Leipzig have won all four of their competitive meetings against SC Paderborn till date.
- Paderborn come into the game having failed to win their previous ten Bundesliga matches.
- Die Roten Bullen have not picked up a win in their last three home matches in the German top-flight. Two of those have come since the restart of the season last month.
- Paderborn have been unable to find the back of the net in their last three fixtures on the road.
- Klaus Gjasula has picked up the most yellow cards this season (15) – five more than the next-highest. Another caution would see him equal Tomasz Hajto’s Bundesliga record.
Player to Watch
If recent reports are to be believed, Timo Werner could very well be playing his final few matches for RB Leipzig. On Thursday, the rumour mill was buzzing with the news that the German international has agreed to join Premier League giants Chelsea in the summer.
Werner has been linked with an exit from Leipzig for quite some time now, with Liverpool and Chelsea being his main suitors. It now seems that he is close to signing for the Blues, having agreed terms on a contract. The 24-year-old has been in prolific form this season, having bagged 25 goals in the Bundesliga this season, with only Robert Lewandowski netting more (29).
With these likely to be his last few matches for Leipzig, Werner will want to sign off on a high. And with Lewandowski still within reach, going up against the bottom-dwellers should provide with him a chance to boost his goal tally and cut down the gap.
RB Leipzig 3-1 SC Paderborn
RB Leipzig haven’t been at their best since the resumption of the season, but picked up a win last time out. SC Paderborn, on the other hand, were handed a beating by Borussia Dortmund, which will have dented their morale.
The fact that Julian Nagelsmann’s side haven’t picked up a win at home in their last three games does offer the visitors some hope, but they have also been equally poor on the road. With the likes of Timo Werner, Patrik Schick and Dani Olmo all among the goals last time out, we at The Hard Tackle expect Leipzig to grab a comfortable victory on Saturday.