As they host Leverkusen at Red Bull Arena on Saturday, Leipzig will be to set to put aside their most recent closely fought loss to Mainz and try to get back in the Bundesliga title race for this reason as they have proven to be more than capable of taking on the defending champions Bayern München, who are seven points ahead of Leipzig. The hosts’ form has been blowing hot and cold of late, with Leipzig winning three wins, one draw and two defeats in the last six games.
However, Leipzig's last home defeat (except for the first one this year at the hands of Dortmund) was against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League in August. This shows that the Bulls are a powerful strong side at home, more so, with the title so within their bounds, they need to know that they can't afford to slip up against their next opponent.
Over the past few weeks, Bayer Leverkusen's quest for a Bundesliga title this season has hit something sort of a rock bottom, winning only one of their last five in the Bundesliga, with three of those fixtures resulting in loss. They pulled off a stunning 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund at the BayArena two matches ago, their first win in over five matches in the Bundesliga. However, they were unable to follow that up as they fell narrowly to their close opponents on the standings.
As they went down 1-0 in their own backyard against Wolfsburg, Leverkusen lost out on their opportunity to close the gap between themselves and Leipzig. The Wolves posed Bayer with a great challenge, and due to the slim goal margin, Leverkusen is currently level on points in third place. Coach Peter Bosz must ensure that his players put aside the frustration of the last performance and win, though, perhaps necessary with another unbeaten run if they are to maintain their place in the top four, and certainly to maintain any lingering hopes for a challenging Bayern Munich title.
Leipzig’s lineup for Saturday’s clash will not include the likes of Konrad Laimer, Benjamin Henrichs, Dominik Szoboslai, Kevin Kampl and Yussuf Poulsen, all of whom are out with injury while Ibrahim Konate could make an appearance after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Timothy Fosu-Mensah is still unable to make his debut feature after a period of quarantine is required following his arrival at the club. Sven and Lar Bender are getting closer to retirement but will remain on the sides due to minor setbacks.
Mitchel Weiser and Paulinho are no show for the visitors as both players grapple with thigh and ACL injuries respectively and will be out for several weeks. On the bright side, Charles Aranguiz and Exequiel Palacios are both back on rotation after months of being absent due to Achilles and back injuries individually.
Predicted Leipzig XI: Gulasci; Orban, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Mukiele, Kampl, Sabitzer, Angelino; Forsberg, Olmo; Poulsen
Predicted Leverkusen XI: Hradecky; Bender, Tah, Tapsoba, Sinkgraven; Wirtz, Aranguiz, Amiri; Diaby, Schick, Bailey
Both sides will be eager not to lose this game, and their recent history points to a game that ends all squares. As for the quality of players, both teams are missing some of their finest players and can’t pretend like they are any better than the other side. However, Leipzig does have the upper hand in five games with two wins and three draws.