Two months after the Bundesliga came to an abrupt halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic, matchday 26 will at last take place as RB Leipzig host Freiburg at the Red Bull Arena behind closed doors. With the eyes of millions from across the globe on this fixture, Julian Nagelsmann’s side will want to reignite a title challenge and maintain the club’s unbeaten record against this weekend’s opposition at home.
Before world football grounded to a halt, Die Roten Bullen had just progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals with a 3-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur and were beginning to build momentum again following a sluggish start to the Rückrunde. In a seven-game unbeaten run of four wins and three draws, Péter Gulácsi kept six clean sheets and conceded just once since the club was dumped out of the DFB Pokal by Eintracht Frankfurt.
Freiburg have proven to be tough opposition in the past for Leipzig, winning three of the last four meetings between the two, including a 2-1 triumph in October to inflict Nagelsmann’s first away defeat at the club. However, Christian Streich’s side is yet to leave the Red Bull Arena with the bragging rights in four attempts and have only won once in their last 10 fixtures on the road, conceding 18 in the process.
Despite interrupting Leipzig’s run of form, the hiatus came at a good time as the club was amid a defensive crisis with Willi Orban and Ibrahima Konaté long-term absentees, Ethan Ampadu sidelined with a back injury, and Dayot Upamecano suspended due to card accumulation. Konaté could make a long-awaited comeback while Nagelsmann has admitted that Kevin Kampl could feature for the first time since November.
Date: Saturday, May 16, 2020
Kick-off: 15:30 (CET)
Venue: Red Bull Arena
Referee: Tobias Stieler
Broadcasting: BT Sport 2 (United Kingdom), Sky Sport Bundesliga 3 (Germany)
27.08.17: RB Leipzig 4-1 Freiburg
20.01.18: Freiburg 2-1 RB Leipzig
08.12.18: Freiburg 3-0 RB Leipzig
27.04.19: RB Leipzig 2-1 Freiburg
26.10.19: Freiburg 2-1 RB Leipzig
Tottenham Hotspur 0-1 (A) | Schalke 04 0-5 (A) | Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 (H) | Wolfsburg 0-0 (A) | Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 (H)
Hoffenheim 1-0 (H) | Augsburg 1-1 (A) | Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-2 (H) | Borussia Dortmund 1-0 (A) | Union Berlin 3-1 (H)
Injured: Ethan Ampadu (back)
Doubtful: Ibrahima Konaté (fitness), Willi Orban (fitness)
Absent: Emil Forsberg (tonsillitis)
Injured: Lukas Kübler (knee)
Gulácsi – Klostermann, Konaté, Halstenberg – Mukiele, Olmo, Laimer, Nkunku, Angeliño – Schick, Werner. (3-5-2)
Schwolow – Gulde, Lienhart, Heintz – Schmid, Koch, Höfler, Günter – Sallai, Waldschmidt, Grifo. (3-4-3)
Julian Nagelsmann: “Freiburg aren’t a certain prospect. They are really flexible, have good players, defend deep and shut down the spaces. I was pretty annoyed after the defeat in the Hinrunde, because we were slow in our approach.”Source: Twitter.com/RBLeipzig_EN
On playing behind closed doors: “We’d all prefer the fans to be there, for the emotion to be there. That’s what makes football so great. Now it’s gone. We need to push ourselves from within and self-motivate. The fans not being there can be both a blessing and a curse. When you have the fans behind you, you put in a few more yards of running. But without them there’s the chance to completely focus on what you have to do.”Source: Twitter.com/RBLeipzig_EN
RB Leipzig 2-1 Freiburg