RB Leipzig are hoping to recover from their 5-0 defeat to Manchester United when they face Borussia Monchengladbach at the Borussia Park on Saturday.
Manchester United mauling last season’s semi-finalists RB Leipzig 5-0 was one of the talking points of midweek’s round of European matches. But on Saturday, the Bundesliga league leaders will have an equally challenging task of overcoming Borussia Monchengladbach, at the Borussia Park as they look to retain their top spot in the league table.
Die Roten Bullen, who have collected 13 points in their opening five matches, are only leading Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund by one point. And with both the Bundesliga giants facing a relatively easier task this weekend, securing all three points against Gladbach could be imperative for Julian Nagelsmann’s men.
Speaking of Gladbach, they won’t be all too happy after squandering a two goal lead in their midweek tussle against Real Madrid. The Foals were leading 2-0 thanks to a brace from Marcus Thuram but two late goals from Casemiro and Karim Benzema meant they had to settle for a point.
As far as the league is concerned, Marco Rose’s men haven’t started on the right foot either, securing just two wins in the opening five matches. They did, however, register a narrow 3-2 victory, 1.FSV Mainz, in their latest Bundesliga fixture and a win this weekend could potentially help them overtake Bayer Leverkusen as well as the high-flying VfB Stuttgart.
Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of the Topspiel in this weekend’s round of fixtures in the German Bundesliga.
Team News & Tactics
Marco Rose has primarily operated with a four-man backline in the Bundesliga this season but might have to settle for a back three that is far more useful against a versatile team like Leipzig.
Denis Zakaria has struggled with a knee injury this season so Tony Jantschke is the likeliest option in the third centre back role, alongside Matthias Ginter and Nico Elvedi. This is the identical setup Rose used in the 3-2 win over Mainz last weekend.
🎙️ #Rose: "We have tough challenges in the next week with games against @RBLeipzig_EN, @FCShakhtar_eng and @bayer04_en. We're looking forward to it and are feeling positive. Our goal is to back up our performance against Real."#DieFohlen #BMGRBL pic.twitter.com/YkcRsJc27M
— Gladbach (@borussia_en) October 29, 2020
As far as wing-back positions are concerned, Ramy Bensebaini and the in-form Stefan Lainer are much-guaranteed starters, who are set to play crucial roles in denying Leipzig the opportunity to employ a wide-oriented attack through the use of wing-backs.
Youngster Rocco Ritz was introduced in his Bundesliga game in central midfield last weekend. It allowed Rose to give Florian Neuhaus and Jonas Hofmann some much-needed breathers in the form of substitute appearances. Both these midfielders ended up starting against Real Madrid and may have to do so again, in this crucial encounter against RB Leipzig.
With Zakaria a doubt, Christoph Kramer is once again a favourite to reclaim his role in the holding midfield position. He should partner Neuhaus in central midfield, with Hofmann, who has already racked up four assists this season, set to operate in the number ten slot.
In the attack, Rose did take off Marcus Thuram during the final phase of the game. The Frenchman is a surefire starter against Leipzig and will hope to partner Alassane Plea in the two-man Gladbach attack.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Sommer; Jantschke, Ginter, Elvedi; Lainer, Nauhaus, Kramer, Bensebaini; Hofmann; Plea, Thuram
RB Leipzig, thanks to Julian Nagelsmann, are pretty interchangeable when it comes to formations. The Bundesliga league leaders used a three at the back against Manchester United and are expected to persist with that setup, especially against a Gladbach side who are good in midfield.
Willi Orban, who is currently the most experienced Leipzig defender, was on the bench against United but should return to the side this weekend, at the expense of Ibrahima Konate. He is expected to partner the regular defensive duo of Marcel Halstenberg and Dayot Upamecano, who is once again becoming a subject of interest for Manchester United.
Left-back Angelino is one of the most in-form players in the Bundesliga right now. However, with Nordi Mukiele and Lukas Klostermann both injured, he might have to operate on the opposite flank, in order to allow Christopher Nkunku to feature as a left wing-back.
The former Manchester City man can drop into a deeper role, with Halsterberg moving out wide, thus creating a four-man backline during defensive phases. However, it remains to be seen whether or not Angelino can perform on the right-hand channel.
Nevertheless, Nagelsmann should deploy Kevin Kampl and Marcel Sabitzer in midfield as the duo could provide much better stability compared to just playing Kampl in the holding midfield role.
Moving forward, Dani Olmo might retain his place in the side, occupying the attacking midfield role alongside Emil Forsberg. These two will be in charge of providing the creative supply to the main striker Yussuf Poulsen, although the latter could join his Danish teammate, at times, to form a more effective first line of press.
New signings like Alexander Sorloth, Hwang Hee-chan and Justin Kluivert provide Nagelsmann with potent attacking options from the bench, with yet another talented youngster in Lazar Samardzic also waiting in the wings.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Gulacsi; Orban, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Angelino, Sabitzer, Kampl, Nkunku; Olmo, Forsberg; Poulsen
- RB Leipzig have never lost to Gladbach (W5 D3), and are unbeaten in their nine away matches in the Bundesliga (W6 D3). Ten would be a new club record.
- Angelino, Emil Forsberg and Yussuf Poulsen are Leipzig’s top scorers in 2020/21, with two Bundesliga goals apiece.
- Alexander Sorloth’s father, Goran, made five appearances for Gladbach during the 1988/89 campaign.
- Gladbach are unbeaten in their last five home matches in the Bundesliga, dating back to last season.
- However, Leipzig are the only Bundesliga team against whom Gladbach have failed to register a point on home soil (L4).
Player to Watch
🎙️ @MatzeGinter: "We're all delighted to see Jonas #Hofmann in such good form. I've known him for a long time. He delivers quality set pieces, he's scored a few penalties lately and he is involved in a lot of goals in general."#DieFohlen #UCL #BMGRMA pic.twitter.com/sVfRw2100p
— Gladbach (@borussia_en) October 26, 2020
Despite all of RB Leipzig’s firepower in the attacking department, it is Gladbach who boast the services of one of the league’s best performer so far, in the shape of Jonas Hofmann.
The ex-Dortmund star has emerged as a creator-in-chief for the Foals this season, with a hand in nine goals in seven games in all competitions (four goals, five assists) – one every 73 minutes. He has also averaged a whopping three key passes per game so far this campaign – a tally only bettered by Daichi Kamada and Thomas Muller.
In this game, Hofmann could be a key outlet in the number ten role, joining forces with Neuhaus to create chances for his side. Similarly, the German international will be equally important in the first line of press as he looks to prevent Leipzig from properly playing out from the back. So, it might be a good idea to bet on Hofmann to be the game-changer in this epic encounter.
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-2 Leipzig
Gladbach aren’t known for conceding too many goals at home. But, they have struggled to keep clean sheets at Borussia Park this season and given Leipzig’s offensive firepower, it won’t be surprising to see the away side to find a couple of goals, though the Foals might also hit them hard. We are expecting a narrow 2-1 win for Leipzig.