Preview: RB Leipzig Return to Bundesliga Action at Home Against Union Berlin

Hinrunde leaders RB Leipzig take on 11th-placed Union Berlin at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday as the Bundesliga returns from the winter break. The clash will be a seen as a great opportunity for the latter to cause an upset as Urs Fischer’s side have shown their ability to step up under pressure and claims points against bigger teams.

A lapse in concentration certainly seems unlikely in this match considering Leipzig are yet to drop a point against a team in the bottom half of the table. Should a shock occur, the team has shown it is capable of fighting back, which was showcased in the 3-3 draw against Borussia Dortmund. Patrick Schick is steadily stepping up to be a reliable option in front of goal and coming up with all-important goals alongside Timo Werner.

With a wide variety of players stepping up in the goal department, there is less pressure on Werner which is certainly a good sign. Julian Nagelsmann has left no stone unturned in ensuring the team is capable of making its presence felt under pressure and delivering the goods. An exciting battle is certainly on the cards. 

While Die Roten Bullen opted to remain in Saxony over the winter break, Union jetted off to Spain to partake in three friendly fixtures against Oud-Heverlee Leuven, Union Saint-Gilloise and Ferencváros, winning two and drawing one to put them in a positive mindset coming into Saturday’s trip to the Red Bull Arena.

The first step towards an inaugural Bundesliga title starts here. Leading with 37 points, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayern Munich are closely following in second and third and waiting to pounce on any mistake. With such intense competition for glory, it is imperative that the Red Bull-backed club restart on a positive note and maintains complete focus through thick and thin.

Match Information

Date: Saturday, January 18, 2020

Kick-off: 18:30 (CET)

Venue: Red Bull Arena

Referee: Bastian Dankert

Broadcasting: Sky Sport Bundesliga 1 (Germany), BT Sport 2 (United Kingdom)

Head-to-Head

21.09.14: Union Berlin 2-1 RB Leipzig

01.03.15: RB Leipzig 3-2 Union Berlin

28.08.15: Union Berlin 1-1 RB Leipzig

19.02.16: RB Leipzig 3-0 Union Berlin

18.08.19: Union Berlin 0-4 RB Leipzig

Current Form

RB Leipzig

Hoffenheim 3-1 (H) | Lyon 2-2 (A) | Fortuna Düsseldorf 0-3 (A) | Borussia Dortmund 3-3 (A) | Augsburg 3-1 (H) 

Union Berlin

Hoffenheim 2-0 (A) | Fortuna Düsseldorf 2-1 (A) | Oud-Heverlee Leuven 2-1 (H) | Union Saint-Gilloise 2-2 (H) | Ferencváros 3-2 (H) 

Team News

RB Leipzig

Injured: Willi Orban (knee), Kevin Kampl (ankle), Ibrahima Konaté (hip)

Absent: Matheus Cunha (international duty), Emil Forsberg (illness)

Union Berlin

Injured: Akaki Gogia (cruciate ligament), Laurenz Dehl (knee), Suleiman Abdullahi (knee), Joshua Mees (hamstring), Manuel Schmeidebach (stomach)

Doubtful: Christopher Trimmel (illness), Keven Schlotterbeck (ilness)

Predicted Line-ups

RB Leipzig

Gulácsi – Mukiele, Ilsanker, Upamecano, Halstenberg – Adams, Laimer – Sabitzer, Nkunku – Schick, Werner (4-2-2-2)

Union Berlin

Gikiewicz – Freidrich, Subotic, Parensen – Trimmel, Gentner, Andrich, Lenz – Ingvartsen, Andersson, Bülter (3-4-3)

Press Conference

Julian Nagelsmann: “Union Berlin don’t give away many chances, they’re physical and strong in the air. They have a clear plan going forward but they also have a solid defensive structure. Union are tough to beat and certainly aren’t pushovers.

“It’s an important game – not just because there are points at stake but because we want to show that we’ve come back from the winter break firing on all cylinders. We need to let the other teams know that we’re ready to fight for a spot in the top four.”

Urs Fischer: “Yeah, Leipzig … best team of the first half. Basically three goals on average per game. I think both teams had a chance to learn from the last game. Not just us. But also Leipzig. To get points, we need a top performance, an optimal day.

“We didn’t see much. We saw enough in the first half to know what awaits us in Leipzig on Saturday. We need to be brave. Leipzig will have some strong phases. Important to stay solid. Stay in it. Then in the next action, be brave under pressure.”

Score Prediction

RB Leipzig 2-1 Union Berlin

By Arnab Mukheriji

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