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Preview: RB Leipzig vs. Hoffenheim - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's Bundesliga clash between RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

RB Leipzig take on Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga on Friday, with the hosts able to move within two points of league leaders Bayern Munich with a victory.

Hoffenheim, meanwhile, are only five points above the relegation zone, so cannot allow a disappointing season to spiral out of control.


Match preview

Dayot Upamecano in action for RB Leipzig on February 6, 2021© Reuters

Julian Nagelsmann conceded the Bundesliga title after Leipzig's 1-0 loss to Bayern opened up a seven-point gap at the top of the table for the Bavarians, but the 33-year-old's concession may well have been a little premature after the subsequent events of last weekend.

Bayern, who have had several injuries to key players and the distraction of a Champions League quarter-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain to contend with, surprisingly dropped two points at home to Union Berlin, allowing Leipzig to close the gap to five points after a superb 4-1 win at Werder Bremen.

Marcel Sabitzer, Kevin Kampl and Dani Olmo combined brilliantly to break the deadlock, with the Spaniard coolly slotting away his fourth league goal of the season, before Alexander Sorloth's quickfire double all but wrapped up a comfortable victory before half time.

Bremen pulled a goal back moments after the hour mark via Milot Rashica's penalty after Kampl had been adjudged to handle the ball, but Sabitzer put any minor doubts to bed with a fine finish two minutes later.

The manner of the victory bodes well for Leipzig in terms of the DFB-Pokal semi-final meeting between the two sides at the end of April, with both Nagelsmann and Leipzig looking to win their first ever major trophies.

It also just about kept the title race alive heading into Friday night's clash against Hoffenheim, with a win seriously ramping up the pressure on league leaders Bayern, who could be somewhat fatigued after their gruelling exit to PSG in midweek ahead of a testing trip to Wolfsburg on Saturday.

Hoffenheim coach Sebastian Hoeness pictured on February 18, 2021© Reuters

Hoffenheim, meanwhile, had to wait until Monday night to face Bayer Leverkusen, with the added pressure of Mainz 05, Hertha Berlin and Arminia Bielefeld all having avoided defeat to leave the gap to the bottom three at just four points.

Relegation would have been unthinkable at the start of the season for a club which finished sixth last season and has qualified for the Champions League on two occasions in recent seasons, and in truth it still remains an unlikely prospect, especially after moving a little further away from the relegation zone following a bore 0-0 draw against Leverkusen.

Understandably so after three successive defeats, Sebastian Hoeness clearly set his side up in a more pragmatic style than usual, with Stefan Posch slotting into the heart of the defence and Florian Grillitsch moving back into his preferred midfield position.

Hoffenheim desperately struggled for offensive fluidity, though, failing to have a shot on target across the entire 90 minutes.

Leverkusen, who have also adopted a more defensive style under their new interim manager Hannes Wolf, did not offer much more threat, although Charles Aranguiz and Nadiem Amiri were both denied by Oliver Baumann either side of half time.

Ultimately, after a testing season filled with injuries, illness, inconsistency and a disappointing exit to Norwegian outfit Molde in the Europa League knockout stages, the rest of the season is solely about survival for Hoffenheim, but they may find avoiding defeat a much tougher entity at Leipzig on Friday.

RB Leipzig Bundesliga form:
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W

RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • W

Hoffenheim Bundesliga form:
  • D
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • D



Team News

RB Leipzig full-back Angelino pictured on February 12, 2021© Reuters

Leipzig are likely to be without Tyler Adams until early May after the midfielder suffered a back problem during the win against Bremen.

Benjamin Henrichs replaced the American at half time and could come into the first XI against Hoffenheim, with Nordi Mukiele providing an alternative option.

Konrad Laimer, Dominik Szoboszlai and Yussuf Poulsen all remain sidelined through injury, so Sorloth is likely to continue in attack after his two-goal showing against Bremen last time out.

Dayot Upamecano and Angelino are seemingly available once again having recovered from their muscle injuries, with Nagelsmann likely to provide both with some game time ahead of Tuesday's trip to face FC Koln.

Hoffenheim, meanwhile, continue to have a lengthy list of absentees, with Dennis Geiger, Ermin Bicakcic and Benjamin Hubner ruled out for the rest of the campaign.

Kevin Akpoguma, Kevin Vogt, Mijat Gacinovic, Sargis Adamyan and Kostas Stafylidis are unlikely to recover in time for the trip to Leipzig.

Sebastian Rudy suffered a knock during the draw with Leverkusen, too, with Andrej Kramaric replacing him after 38 minutes.

The Croatian's return should see an upturn in Hoffenheim's attacking performance at the very least, with Robert Skov potentially dropping out of the XI to allow Diadie Samassekou to slot into the midfield.

RB Leipzig possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Orban, Upamecano, Klostermann; Henrichs, Sabitzer, Kampl, Angelino; Nkunku, Forsberg; Sorloth

Hoffenheim possible starting lineup:
Baumann; Akpoguma, Posch, Richards; Kaderabek, Baumgartner, Grillitsch, Samassekou, Sessegnon; Kramaric, Bebou


SM words green background

We say: RB Leipzig 2-1 Hoffenheim

Kramaric's return should provide Hoffenheim with enough attacking impetus to penetrate Leipzig's backline, but it is unlikely to be enough for them to gain a positive result.

The prospect of moving within two points of Bayern will ensure that Leipzig are highly motivated, with their offensive fluidity potentially offering too much for Hoffenheim's leaky defence to handle.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a home win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home Win:data


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How you voted: RB Leipzig vs Hoffenheim

RB Leipzig
89.1%
Draw
6.9%
Hoffenheim
4.0%
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Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring against Lazio in the Champions League on March 17, 2021
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Bayern MunichBayern32235492405274
2RB Leipzig32197657282964
3Wolfsburg32179657322560
4Borussia DortmundDortmund321841069442558
5Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt321512563481557
6Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen32149951351651
7Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach321210105952746
8Union BerlinUnion Berlin32111384741646
9Freiburg32128124947244
10Stuttgart32119125452242
11Hoffenheim32109134952-339
12Mainz 053299143551-1636
13Augsburg3296173249-1733
14Hertha Berlin32711143950-1132
15Werder Bremen32710153451-1731
16Arminia Bielefeld3287172351-2831
17FC Koln3278173360-2729
RSchalke 04Schalke3228222181-6014

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