As the Bundesliga returns to action this weekend, RB Leipzig welcome second-placed Schalke 04 to the Red Bull Arena in a highly anticipated match up. Having already succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to Die Königsblauen in a game which saw Schalke convert a controversially awarded penalty before half-time in the opening weekend of the season, Ralph Hasenhüttl and his squad will be aiming to rectify for the aforementioned defeat, and come out victorious in their first league fixture since the turn of the year.
Going into the winter break without a league victory since their 2-0 win against Werder Bremen at the back-end of November, Hasenhüttl will be hoping that his squad can arise from a slump that has seen them fall outside of the top four for the first time since the start of October. After a run of games that had seen Leipzig pick up a measly 5 points out of a possible 15, including a humiliation at the hands of Hoffenheim, it is integral to come away from the fixture having attained all three points to aid their aspiration of returning to the Champions League next season.
Schalke’s form going into the festive period wasn’t something to be desired either, coming out triumphant for the first time in 4 fixtures after scraping past Köln in their final fixture of 2017. A record that would not be associated with a team that is flying high near the summit of the table. Despite this, there hasn’t been too much an issue in the offensive apartment, scoring 12 goals in their past 5 games. It has been at the back where the problems lie, having conceded 11 in the same period. With the club looking to achieve automatic Champions League qualification for the first time in three years, the Gelsenkirchen-based side must ensure that they can overcome their opposition for the second time this campaign.
RB Leipzig 2-1 Schalke 04 (03/12/16).
Schalke 04 1-1 RB Leipzig (23/04/17).
Schalke 04 2-0 RB Leipzig (19/08/17).
Date: Saturday 13th January 2018.
Kick-off: 18:30 (CET), 17:30 (GMT).
Venue: Red Bull Arena (Leipzig)
Broadcasting: BT Sport 3 (UK), beIN Sports 5 (USA)
Emil Forsberg (Abdominal Muscle) and Marcel Halstenberg (Broken Hand).
Pablo Insua (Inflammation) and Leon Goretzka (Stress Fracture).
One To Watch
Through his desire to breach defensive lines by making runs off the shoulder of the last man, Schalke’s Guido Burgstaller has the credentials to impose a serious to Leipzig this weekend, especially if he can take full advantage of the space vacated by Dayot Upamecano, who has the tendency to venture forward. The Austrian’s ability to identify and anticipate space within the area has, unsurprisingly, seen him atop Schalke’s goal-scoring list this season, having found the net 8 times in 16 Bundesliga appearances. All of which coming from in the box. Another element of Burgstaller’s game is his unpredictability in a shooting scenario, due to his ability to let fire with either foot so both of Leipzig’s centre-halves will need to maintain thorough concentration throughout to prevent the former Rapid Wien forward from featuring on the score sheet this weekend.
RB Leipzig (4-2-2-2): Gulácsi; Klostermann, Upamecano, Orban, Bernardo; Demme, Keïta; Kampl, Bruma; Poulsen, Werner
Schalke 04 (3-4-3): Fährmann; Stambouli, Naldo, Nastasić; Caliguiri, McKennie, Meye, Oczipka; Harit, Burgstaller, Konoplyanka
RB Leipzig 2-1 Schalke 04