RB Leipzig vs SV Darmstadt 98: Preview and Predictions

RB Leipzig will be eager to return to winning ways when they welcome SV Darmstadt 98 to the Red Bull Arena on Saturday.

The 2023/24 Bundesliga season resumes this week with Matchday 25. The latest round of fixtures gets underway on Friday before we continue with four simultaneous matches to kick things off on Saturday. One of those games will have RB Leipzig hosting SV Darmstadt 98 at the Red Bull Arena.

RB Leipzig began 2023/24 with a 3-0 win over Bayern Munich to lift the DFL Supercup. But they have been on a topsy-turvy ride since then, bowing out of the DFB Pokal in the second round, with Real Madrid eliminating them from the UEFA Champions League this week. As for the Bundesliga campaign, Marco Rose’s men have blown hot and cold, although they beat VfL Bochum 4-1 last weekend.

As for SV Darmstadt 98, they have been in the doldrums for much of the 2023/24 campaign. The Lilies were once as high as 11th in the Bundesliga standings but have been on a freefall since October. Torsten Lieberknecht’s men have been dreadful as they occupy the bottom spot on the table, with things being so grim that the squad got a telling-off from a member of the ultras last weekend.

The reverse fixture saw RB Leipzig beating SV Darmstadt 98 3-1 at the Merck-Stadion am Bollenfalltor, with Lois Openda scoring a match-winning brace. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides.

Team News & Tactics

RB Leipzig

Marco Rose barely has any injury concerns hampering his preparations ahead of his side’s latest fixture. Against SV Darmstadt 98 on Saturday, the RB Leipzig manager will be bereft of the services of only one first-team player.

Lukas Klostermann is the only absentee, with the German international recovering from a hamstring injury. But there is some good news, with Xaver Schlager available after serving a suspension last weekend against VfL Bochum.

RB Leipzig should line up in a 4-2-2-2 formation against Darmstadt, with Peter Gulacsi starting between the sticks instead of Janis Blaswich. The backline should consist of Benjamin Henrichs, Mohamed Simakan, Willi Orban, and David Raum.

As for the midfield unit, there is no looking past Xaver Schlager and Kevin Kampl. The duo will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park and initiate quick transitions. Xavi Simons and Dani Olmo will be the creative forces for the home side, and they will support Benjamin Sesko and Lois Openda, who should be the two strikers.

Probable Lineup (4-2-2-2): Gulacsi; Henrichs, Simakan, Orban, Raum; Schlager, Kampl; Xavi Simons, Olmo; Sesko, Openda

SV Darmstadt 98

Unlike his counterpart in the RB Leipzig dugout, Torsten Lieberknecht has many issues to deal with ahead of the trip to the Red Bull Arena. The SV Darmstadt 98 manager might be without seven first-team players on Saturday.

Matthias Bader (hamstring), Fabian Holland (concussion), Clemens Riedel (ankle), Marvin Mehlem (broken leg), Fabian Nurnberger (ankle), and Fraser Hornby (ankle) remain on the sidelines. In addition, Lieberknecht is sweating over the fitness of Braydon Manu.

Marcel Schuhen will take his spot between the sticks, with SV Darmstadt 98 lining up in a 3-4-2-1 formation in front of him against RB Leipzig. The central defensive unit should feature Christoph Zimmermann, Klaus Gjasula, and Matej Maglica. Tim Skarke and Emir Karic will likely be the two wing-backs.

The duo will support the centre-backs and provide width in the final third. As for the midfield unit, Bartol Franjic and Tobias Kempe will look to keep things tight in the middle of the park. Finally, Sebastian Polter will lead the line for Darmstadt against RB Leipzig, with Julian Justvan and Gerrit Holtman supporting him in the offensive trifecta.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Schuhen; Zimmermann, Gjasula, Maglica; Skarke, Franjic, Kempe, Karic; Justvan, Holtmann; Polter

Key Stats

  • RB Leipzig have won all three previous Bundesliga encounters with SV Darmstadt 98 by an aggregate score of 9-1. Against no other current top-flight team have they played as often in the first division without dropping a single point.
  • SV Darmstadt 98 have failed to win their most recent 17 Bundesliga games (D6 L11), their longest-ever winless run in the top flight. Before them, the last team with as long a winless streak in a Bundesliga season was Nurnberg (20 games).
  • The current tally (13 points) is Darmstadt’s worst record in a Bundesliga season after 24 games. In the three-points-per-win era, only FC Schalke 04 had worse fortunes (10 points in 2020/21) at this stage.
  • RB Leipzig have won three of their last five Bundesliga matches after losing the previous three games. Since the start of Matchday 20, only VfB Stuttgart (13) and Bayer Leverkusen (15) have notched up more points than them (10).
  • RB Leipzig have an unbeaten record in their last 30 Bundesliga games against promoted teams (W27 D3). No other team has embarked on a longer run in such games at the start of their Bundesliga run.

Player to Watch

Lois Openda

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A hurting SV Darmstadt will take the game to RB Leipzig, meaning an odd-goal win might be on the cards. So, Marco Rose needs his attackers to be on the money and deliver the goods in the final third. That brings Lois Openda into the picture.

The Belgian international has been an exceptional addition to the RB Leipzig squad, scoring 17 goals in 24 appearances in the Bundesliga. His exploits have attracted several high-profile clubs, particularly from the Premier League. But that is for the summer, and the 24-year-old will be eager to make their mark this weekend.


RB Leipzig 2-1 SV Darmstadt 98

As iterated earlier, SV Darmstadt will be eager to step up after the scenes from last weekend. The visitors will take the game to RB Leipzig, hoping to capitalise on the home side’s defensive vulnerabilities. But their own shortcomings at the back will haunt them again.

Lois Openda should score another match-winning brace this weekend, although a late strike might set up a nervy finale for RB Leipzig. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Marco Rose and his men, who should hold their nerve to clinch three points this weekend.

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