RB Leipzig will be aiming to return to top form when they travel to Sinsheim to face TSG Hoffenheim on Friday night.
RB Leipzig haven’t had a pleasing return of the Bundesliga this year, having failed to win three of their five matches so far. Their rusty form knocked them out from the title race in the middle of May, but more importantly, they are now in danger of potentially giving away their third place to Borussia Monchengladbach.
Leipzig currently have 59 points on the board, three points ahead of Gladbach. Although the Foals cannot realistically overtake Die Roten Bullen in this weekend’s round of fixtures, it could be imperative for Julian Nagelsmann’s men to secure a victory against Hoffenheim as they look to move one step closer towards Champions League qualification.
Speaking of Hoffenheim, they haven’t had a bright campaign whatsoever. Although they are currently seventh in the league table, the Sinsheim outfit is coming on the back of a 2-2 draw with Fortuna Dusseldorf – a match which brought an end to coach Alfred Schreuder’s time as head coach.
The Dutchman was relieved of his duties this week due to planning differences, which means Hoffenheim are now heading into this game under the leadership of caretaker manager Marcel Rapp. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will be taking a look both these clubs ahead of this important match-up this Friday.
Team News & Tactics
It is unclear how exactly Rapp would like to line up his Hoffenheim side in this fixture, but we do expect him to retain a 4-3-3 shape. He does, however, have a host of star players out injured including Ishak Belfodil, Sargis Adamyan and Jacob Bruun Larsen.
Andrej Kramaric is likely to spearhead the Hoffenheim attack, partnered by Christoph Baumgartner and Robert Skov. The club does have other options too including Munas Dabbur and Ihlas Bebou, whose pace could be key late in the game.
#TSG Hoffenheim and Alfred Schreuder have ended their collaboration.
The club came to an agreement with the 47 year old to terminate his contract with immediate effect. pic.twitter.com/bQBQXmYUoF
— TSG Hoffenheim EN (@achtzehn99_en) June 9, 2020
In midfield, Sebastian Rudy is a guaranteed starter, alongside Diadie Samassekou. While partnered by Florian Grillitsch, these two will be responsible for competing against RB Leipzig’s systematic second line of press. And given their athletic nature, it will be interesting to see how they perform this Friday.
And finally, in defence, Benjamin Hubner was sent off in the draw with Dusseldorf. He is ruled out for this fixture, thus paving the way for Ermin Bicakcic to return to the side.
The Bosnian will most likely be partnered by Stefan Posch at the heart of Hoffenheim’s four-man backline with Pavel Kaderabek and Steven Zuber operating as fullbacks. Oliver Baumann, meanwhile, is a guaranteed starter in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Baumann; Kaderabek, Posch, Bicakcic, Zuber; Rudy, Grillitsch, Samassekou; Skov, Kramaric, Baumgartner
Nagelsmann will look to make some necessary changes to the team following a disappointing draw with SC Paderborn last time out. Midfield general Konrad Laimer, in particular, is tipped to return to the starting lineup, at the expense of Tyler Adams.
The Austrian is set to form the double-pivot alongside Kevin Kampl, whose return has served as a major boost for Leipzig.
Another key player set to return to the side is Marcel Sabitzer, who is more than guaranteed to replace Dani Olmo at right-wing. Christopher Nkunku will operate on the opposite flank as usual, and these four players will form the second line of press in Nagelsmann’s 4-4-2 setup.
Nkunku, however, will be in charge of providing the creative essence to the Leipzig side, having averaged an incredible 2.6 key passes per game this season. (h/t Whoscored)
Moving forward, Timo Werner and Patrik Schick will lead the charge for the east German giants as the duo looks to return to scoring form.
In defence, however, Nagelsmann will miss out on the services of Dayot Upamecano due to suspension. Ibrahima Konate is also ruled out, meaning Marcel Halstenberg could feature at centre-back alongside Lukas Klostermann, with Nordi Mukiele and Angelino operating in the wider defensive positions.
So essentially, there is a chance that Leipzig could start with four traditional fullbacks forming their backline, with Peter Gulacsi playing in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Gulacsi; Mukiele, Klostermann, Halstenberg, Angelino; Sabitzer, Laimer, Kampl, Nkunku; Schick, Werner
- This is one of the highest-scoring fixtures in Bundesliga history. Eight competitive games between these sides have resulted in 29 goals – nearly four per match.
- Hoffenheim’s 42 goals have been scored by 13 different players. Kramaric leads the way with seven, one more than Baumgartner.
- Werner is enjoying his best-ever season in front of goal, with 25 scored in 30 games. He has scored seven against Hoffenheim, including two in the reverse fixture.
- Leipzig coach Nagelsmann left Hoffenheim for the Red Bull Arena last June having won 44 percent of his games with the Sinsheimers – a club record.
- Only league leaders Bayern Munich (30) have conceded fewer goals than Leipzig (32) this term, despite the fact that Nagelsmann has tested 12 different players in three, four and five-man backlines.
Player to Watch
Chelsea fans will surely be keeping an eye out for Werner in this fixture following an intriguing report that claimed that the German international is set to arrive at Stamford Bridge this summer. The move, if completed, would undoubtedly help Frank Lampard’s solve the club’s attacking problems.
Nonetheless, Werner, in this fixture, will be looking to continue his incredible scoring tally, having netted 25 goals in just 30 league matches. His pace, positional awareness and a telepathic understanding with his teammates should be essential as the visitors look to break apart this Hoffenheim defence.
Another key player is Nkunku, who is arguably the most creative in the Bundesliga right now, having enjoyed tremendous success since arriving from Paris Saint-Germain. But even then, Werner’s productivity will be crucial if the Frenchman is to succeed on Friday.
TSG Hoffenheim 0-2 RB Leipzig
Hoffenheim, without any coach, are sure to find it difficult to find a setting in this fixture, especially against a Leipzig side, which is hungry to return to winning ways. Hence, we expect the hosts to succumb to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of their opposition this Friday.