RB Leipzig will look to close the gap between them and the top four as they play Bayer Leverkusen who are yet to find their stride in the Bundesliga under Xabi Alonso.
Leipzig will be going into this game full of confidence after beating Real Madrid 3-2 at the Red Bull Arena in midweek. Die Roten Bullen went 2-0 up within 20 minutes against the defending champions with goals from Joško Gvardiol and Christopher Nkunku before Vinicius Junior halved the lead before half time.
Timo Werner would secure the win for Leipzig in the 81st minute while a late Rodrygo penalty proved to be a consolation. Although impressive on Wednesday night, Leipzig’s previous game in the Bundesliga showed their frailties. Against Augsburg they went 3-0 down before an Andre Silva goal in the 73rd minute started the comeback. Nkunku and Hugo Novoa would complete the comeback with two late goals.
Leverkusen have struggled in the league since Alonso took charge having only beaten Schalke so far, but there has been signs of improvement. Against Atlético Madrid in midweek they kept their hopes of playing in the Europa League alive as they drew 2-2 having taken the lead twice before needing a Lukas Hradecky penalty save and some poor finishing to keep them with a chance of qualifying. In the Bundesliga, they came from behind to draw 2-2 with Wolfsburg.
Some positive news for Leverkusen heading into this game, is the fact that Florian Wirtz is close to returning on the pitch for Leverkusen, Alonso confirmed on Friday. This also comes after the attacking-midfielder was reportedly included in the 55-man provisional squad for the World Cup.
Whilst Wirtz is injured, all eyes will be on Jeremie Frimpong who has by far been Leverkusen’s best player in the league this season. The right-back, who has played right-wing at times has five goals in 11 games and has continued his form under Alonso as well. This has prompted rumours that he may leave as early as January with interest in him from bigger clubs, namely Manchester United. It will also be interesting how defensively Frimpong deals with the likes of Werner and even David Raum on the wing.
It is up to Alonso to try and get the best out of some of Leverkusen’s stand out players from last season like Moussa Diaby and Patrik Schick who have both been the shadow of the players they were last year.
The points were split between the two teams last season with Leverkusen inning the first game 3-1 at the Red Bull Arena before Leipzig would win at the BayArena 1-0.
Nyland – Simakan, Orban, Gvardiol, Diallo – Kampl, Schlager – Szoboszlai, Werner – Nkunku – Silva
Hradecky – Kossounou, Tapsoba, Hincapie – Frimpong, Andrich, Amiri, Bakker – Diaby, Hudson Odoi – Schick
GGFN | Jack Meenan