RB Leipzig will aim to take a positive step forward in their quest for a top-four finish as they host a resurgent Hoffenheim side.
RB Leipzig, who play Hoffenheim next, intend to finish the season strongly after going through one of the toughest slumps in their recent history. Having lost five of their last nine in all competitions, the fifth-placed team had bounced back, only to suffer another blow.
Chasing them from sixth were Bayer Leverkusen, who took full advantage of Leipzig’s lack of finishing prowess and Dominik Szoboszlai’s red card to secure a victory and move within four points of their opponents. Marco Rose’s men remain hopeful of securing a top-four finish with five games to go, but their task is tough.
Training 🤝 fans pic.twitter.com/dGxb6xw5bC
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) April 25, 2023
They remain two points behind fourth-placed Freiburg, and Rose knows the need to improve their gameplay. Having lost five of their last nine games in all competitions, Leipzig have conceded 15 goals in that period. They can be confident of bouncing back and taking on Hoffenheim, against whom they have won their last six games at home.
While Leipzig are gunning for a top-four finish, Hoffenheim will be keen to further distance themselves from the bottom three. Pellegrino Matarazzo’s men remain four points off 16th-placed Stuttgart. Their recent form does suggest an upturn in fortunes, but they will still have to churn out results.
After accumulating ten points from a possible 12 in recent games, the visitors lost their four-game unbeaten streak last weekend. Koln emerged victorious over Hoffenheim with a 3-1 scoreline, but that will not deter Matarazzo in his quest to finish the season in the safety zone.
Matarazzo will have concerns over Hoffenheim’s recent results away from Leipzig. He might also reflect on the result in the reverse fixture, which resulted in defeat. They have lost more games than any other opponents since Rose’s men gained promotion. It may be time for Hoffenheim to change the script, which will prove difficult.
Team News & Tactics
There are plenty of problems with personnel for Marco Rose ahead of the Hoffenheim clash. Long-term absentees Timo Schlieck and Peter Gulasci aside, Leipzig have Josko Gvardiol, Dani Olmo, Benjamin Henrichs and Konrad Laimer on the sidelines.
🎙️ Marco Rose:
"Benny Henrichs has had problems with his hip and also a muscle issue that we might be able to sort by tomorrow. Joško Gvardiol hasn't trained with the team this week."#RBLTSG pic.twitter.com/Rn3dJtvSXL
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) April 27, 2023
Amadou Haidara and Dominik Szoboszlai are suspended for this game, but the main focus will remain on Gvardiol. Rose confirmed the Croat did not train the whole week, thus making the centre-back a major doubt. As for Olmo, he had a knock, which has seen him train individually for the whole duration.
The return of Mohamed Simakan could help fill the possible void left by Gvardiol and will partner Willi Orban in central defence. Meanwhile, Laimer could take his place in central midfield alongside Kevin Kampl.
Christopher Nkunku remains on the comeback trail and played 45 minutes in the last game. He could start against Hoffenheim. Rose could also count on Yussuf Poulsen and Emil Fosberg, but only the latter could start the game.
As for Poulsen, he could return to the bench and sit alongside Andre Silva, as Rose will likely continue with Timo Werner to lead the line. The latter has a tremendous scoring record against Hoffenheim and will get the not upfront.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Blaswich; Henrichs, Orban, Simakan, Raum; Laimer, Kampl; Fosberg, Nkunku, Olmo; Werner’
Pellegrino Matarazzo can have Munas Dabbur back from suspension, but Jacob Bruun Larsen will remain out after a groin operation. Justin Che is also out with a groin problem. Kevin Vogt continues to battle a knee issue, which could make him a doubt for this clash.
Einheit Nr. 3 diese Woche: ✔️ pic.twitter.com/5Z5Gstvumw
— TSG Hoffenheim (@tsghoffenheim) April 26, 2023
Grischa Promel is also a doubt with an ankle problem. Matarazzo may not make wholesale changes, with only minor tweaks expected, if any. He will continue with a back three and hope to have Vogt available to marshall the defence.
Kevin Akpoguma and John Brooks will also feature at the back, while Pavel Kaderabek and Angelino will play wing-backs. Angelo Stiller and Dennis Geiger will take their central midfield places. Andrej Kramaric and Christoph Baumgartner will play in support behind central striker Ihlas Bebou.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Baumann; Akpoguma, Vogt, Brooks; Kaderabek, Stiller, Geiger, Angelino; Kramaric, Baumgartner; Bebou
- RB Leipzig have won each of their last six games at home against Hoffenheim in all competitions.
- RB Leipzig have lost only once in eight home games against Hoffenheim.
- RB Leipzig have lost five of their last nine games in all competitions.
- Pellegrino Matarazzo has failed to win any of his last five games against RB Leipzig as manager.
- Hoffenheim have lost the most games against Leipzig than any other team since the latter’s promotion to the Bundesliga.
Player to Watch
It has been a strange season for the Leipzig star, who has not returned to his usual form since that injury before the World Cup. While he did regain fitness from the knee problem that kept him out of the France squad, Nkunku sustained a muscle problem that has seen him play just twice since the winter event.
He has not scored in the league since November, and this might prove the perfect time to lace up his scoring boots. Leipzig need him more than ever to finish in the top four. As for Nkunku, helping his team do that before his impending departure to Chelsea could become the best gift possible.
RB Leipzig 3-1 Hoffenheim
Both teams have form and momentum on their hands, but there is a sense of superiority in quality when it comes to Leipzig. The pressure may appear higher for the home side to finish in the top four than Hoffenheim in their position.
Moreover, Leipzig’s record in this fixture at this venue seems overwhelming and makes them clear favourites. However, Hoffenheim can spring up a surprise, but it may seem unlikely against Rose’s men, who have the momentum on their side.
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