RB Leipzig will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways when they lock horns with Werder Bremen at the Weserstadion on Saturday.

It has been a disappointing start to the month for RB Leipzig, whose narrow defeat to Bayern Munich last weekend almost sealed the fate of the Bundesliga title race this season. Indeed, the east German giants now find themselves seven points behind league leaders Bayern and with just seven games left to play, chances of a remarkable turnaround are seemingly bleak.

Leipzig, though, still have enough reasons to keep up the fight when they face Werder Bremen on Saturday. They will be hoping for a win that could maintain the pressure on a depleted Bayern Munich side that faces a tricky test against Union Berlin.

However, Bremen themselves are no slouch, having vastly improved their defensive record under Florian Kohfeldt this season. It was evident in their performance against VfB Stuttgart last weekend, even though a late and unfortunate own goal from Ludwig Augustinsson saw them drop one point.

Die Grunweissen are currently 13th in the league table, seven points clear of safety. But they simply cannot afford to keep losing, especially with 1.FSV Mainz and Arminia Bielefeld making quite a surge under their respective new coaches.

The hosts will be taking pride in their midweek win over Jahn Regensburg that helped them secure a place in the semi-final of the DFB Pokal. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their vital Bundesliga match-up on Saturday, at the iconic Weserstadion.

Team News & Tactics

Werder Bremen

BREMEN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 10: Head coach Florian Kohfeldt of SV Werder Bremen gesticulated during the Bundesliga match between SV Werder Bremen and Borussia Moenchengladbach at Weserstadion on November 10, 2018 in Bremen, Germany. (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Can Kohfeldt’s men keep things steady at the back? (Photo by Oliver Hardt/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Werder Bremen were rock solid at the back in their last Bundesliga game against VfB Stuttgart, and a similar defensive strategy could be on the agenda once again for Florian Kohfeldt’s men this time around.

However, the German tactician may have to switch to a back-three in light of Leipzig’s preferred formation. It should pave the way for Milos Veljkovic to return to the Bremen backline, alongside Omer Toprak and the versatile Marco Friedl, who can operate as a left-back if necessary, giving the hosts the liberty to switch to a back-four even during the game.

Theodor Gebre-Selassie and Felix Agu remain set to occupy the wing-back slots, but Maximilian Eggestein will be a huge miss for Bremen after the midfielder picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against Stuttgart.

Eggestein’s aggression and ability to win back possession could have useful against this Leipzig team. But with him ruled out, Kohfeldt will bank his hopes on the midfield duo of Christian Gross and Kevin Mohwald.

While Gross is likely to operate very deep, Mohwald is a bit of a surprise package who has the tendency to drive forward and score goals. It should be useful for attacking players like Yuya Osako and Milot Rashica while the Bremen frontline should be spearheaded by Josh Sargent.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Pavlenka; Veljkovic, Toprak, Friedl; Gebre-Selassie, Gross, Mohwald, Agu; Rashica, Osako; Sargent

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RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig had no problems creating chances against Bayern Munich’s high line of press, but things could get trickier this weekend as they look to breach the low defensive block of Werder Bremen.

Given the challenge ahead, coach Julian Nagelsmann may prefer the physical stature of Alexander Sorloth ahead of Emil Forsberg as the Norwegian is more of a target man, who can perhaps capitalise from the crosses of Christopher Nkunku and Dani Olmo.

Die Roten Bullen have been handed a boost in midfield as Kevin Kampl returns from suspension. The experienced Slovak should slot right back into the double pivot, alongside captain Marcel Sabitzer. These two could play a key role in offering stability in the middle of the park for Leipzig this weekend.

Elsewhere, key full-back Angelino has declared himself fit on social media, prompting a warning from Nagelsmann. Nevertheless, we might see him on the bench against Werder, as Leipzig continue with the wing-back duo of Tyler Adams and Amadou Haidara.

Defensively, Nagelsmann will miss out on the services of Dayot Upamecano and Nordi Mukiele due to suspension, which should pave the way for Marcel Halstenberg to return to the backline, renewing his partnership alongside Ibrahima Konate and Willi Orban.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Gulacsi; Konate, Orban, Halstenberg; Adams, Sabitzer, Kampl, Haidara; Olmo, Nkunku; Sorloth

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Key Stats

  • Ludwig Augustinsson and Josh Sargent’s own goals have put Werder behind in each of their last two league games.
  • Werder Bremen have lost each of their last three Bundesliga matches and both of their previous two at the Weserstadion.
  • The visitors have chalked up four consecutive Bundesliga victories without conceding.
  • RB Leipzig have won each of the previous three Bundesliga meetings with Werder and have kept clean sheets every time.
  • Julian Nagelsmann took charge of his first Bundesliga match against Werder as Hoffenheim coach on 13 February 2016. That game ended in a 1-1 draw and he has since lost just once in nine subsequent meetings (W5, D4, L1).

Player to Watch

Marcel Sabitzer

Marcel Sabitzer was brilliant this season for Leipzig. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

A vital cog for Leipzig. (Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Marcel Sabitzer was one of the top performers in Leipzig’s narrow defeat to Bayern Munich last time out. He led the side well, creating a host of opportunity while offering a lot of intent and aggression in the middle of the park.

This weekend, the return of Kevin Kampl should allow him to further express himself going forward, as the Austrian international hopes to use his technical quality as well as his lethal right foot to test Jiri Pavlenka in goal.

Defensively, Sabitzer may also play a vital role in denying the likes of Yuya Osako and Romano Schmid to influence the game, thus making him the most important player for Leipzig heading into this game.

Prediction

Werder Bremen 1-2 RB Leipzig

Despite their position in the league table, Werder Bremen are not an opposition to be taken lightly by RB Leipzig. They have improved significantly in the defensive department and in the likes of Milot Rashica, Josh Sargent and Yuya Osako, they boast impressive firepower on the counter that should make life difficult for the depleted RB Leipzig backline.

As such, this game could be decided by the finest of margins, although we do expect Leipzig to get over the line using the quality they possess in the creative department.

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