Preview: RB Leipzig Begin Third Champions League Campaign at Home to İstanbul Başakşehir

Last season’s European adventure took an 11-year-old RB Leipzig to the dizzying heights of a Champions League semi-final. Now back down to earth and into a new season, Die Roten Bullen begin the club’s third Champions League campaign with a home tie against 2019/20 Süper Lig champions, İstanbul Başakşehir, in front of just 999 spectators.

Due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the state of Saxony, Leipzig’s permitted attendance against Başakşehir on Tuesday has been reduced from 8,500 to 999. This won’t stand in the way of a Leipzig side that have started the new season strongly and currently sit atop the Bundesliga table with ten points from four matches, while boasting the joint best defensive record with two goals conceded.

The host’s defensive strength could well be an issue for Başakşehir as the Turkish champions have begun their title defence in an abysmal manner. The team sits uncomfortably in 18th with four points and were only able to secure their first win of the season against Alexander Sørloth’s former club, Trabzonspor, at the weekend after failing to score in their opening four matches.

If the Turkish team is to have any chance of participating in Europe in the new year, they’ll need to overturn this run of form very soon as points against Leipzig could be the catalyst in progressing, as Group H also consists of last season’s runners-up, Paris Saint-Germain, and all-time leading English champions, Manchester United.

As it is only Die Roten Bullen’s fourth season in European competition, the club’s record against Turkish opposition is minimal but not ideal. In the club’s debut campaign, they lost 2-0 in Istanbul against Beşiktaş then 2-1 at home on matchday six. Başakşehir, on the other hand, have not lost on their two previous trips to Germany and topped a group in the Europa League last season that included Borussia Mönchengladbach.

This fixture will see a Red Bull Salzburg reunion of sorts as Dayot Upamecano and Hwang Hee-chan could face former team-mate, Frederik Gulbrandsen, who moved to Istanbul in the summer of 2019, while Konrad Laimer and Amadou Haidara watch on from the stands and at home respectively.

Match Information

Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Kick-off: 21:00 (CET) | 15:00 (ET)

Venue: Red Bull Arena

Referee: Jesús Gil Manzano (Spain)

Broadcasting: DAZN (Germany), CBS All Access (United States)

Current Form

RB Leipzig

Nuremberg 0-3 (A) | Mainz 05 3-1 (H) | Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 (A) | Schalke 4-0 (H) | Augsburg 0-2 (A)

İstanbul Başakşehir

Hatayspor 2-0 (A) | Galatasaray 0-2 (H) | Fatih Karagümrük 2-0 (A) | Göztepe 0-0 (H) | Trabzonspor 0-2 (A)  

Team News

RB Leipzig

Injured: Fabrice Hartmann (cruciate ligament), Lukas Klostermann (knee)

Absent: Amadou Haidara (COVID-19), Konrad Laimer (recovery), Marcel Sabitzer (recovery)

İstanbul Başakşehir

Injured: Muhammed Sengezer (shoulder), Okechukwu Azubuike (unknown), Nacer Chadli (unknown), Hasan Ali Kaldirim (unknown)

Predicted Line-ups

RB Leipzig

Gulácsi – Upamecano, Orban, Halstenberg – Mukiele, Adams, Kampl, Angeliño – Olmo, Poulsen, Forsberg. (3-4-3)

İstanbul Başakşehir

Günok – Caiçara, Škrtel, Epureanu, Bolingoli – Rafael, Topal, Kahveci – Višća, Ba, Türüç. (4-3-3)

Pre-match Quotes

“I don’t know if we are, you’d have to ask the pundits. Nevertheless, we’re gaining experience with each Champions League campaign and now we want to build on that. Our opponents also have a good amount of international experience, but the focus is on ourselves and playing our game. We want to show Europe that we’re even better than we were last season.”

Péter Gulácsi on if RB Leipzig are favourites against İstanbul Başakşehir. [RB Leipzig]

“Our main goal is to progress past the group stages. That’s the first main challenge of the Champions League that you have to overcome. The beauty of tournaments like this is that it’s a step-by-step process. What we want is to finish in the top two of our group so that we can get to the knock-out rounds.

Julian Nagelsmann on RB Leipzig’s objectives in Group H. [RB Leipzig]

Score Prediction

RB Leipzig 2-0 İstanbul Başakşehir

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