15:30 (CEST), Sunday 27th August, Red Bull Arena (Leipzig, Germany) BT Sport Extra
Could second-year syndrome be rearing its ugly head after both sides failed to secure victory on matchday 1. RB Leipzig were extremely uncomfortable with the ball against a tactically supreme Schalke side. Schalke made Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side play with possession rather than being allowed to exploit the Royal Blues on the counter attack.
Freiburg secured a point but were impressive and Eintracht Frankfurt made Christian Streich’s side look second rate for most of the contest. It will be a tough task for Freiburg on matchday 2 with the added drive and motivation very much in RB Leipzig’s corner. Can Freiburg take note of what Schalke did and implement it at the Red Bull Arena?
Last Time Out
Schalke 2-0 RB Leipzig
It was a less than ideal start to the Bundesliga season as RB Leipzig were downed by Schalke on matchday 1. RB Leipzig were forced to play with possession having 57% of it but did very little with it as Schalke happily had numbers behind the ball.
Schalke would then have the chance to take the lead as a long ball played Franco Di Santo in, Dayot Upamecano unnecessarily fouled Di Santo. Nabil Bentaleb stepped up to give Schalke the lead heading into the break.
Schalke would make it 2-0 after the break as Amine Harit threaded the needle with an excellent through ball and Yevhen Konoplyanka kept his nerve to give the hosts all three points. The worrying part for RB Leipzig is that with possession they ran out of ideas really quickly and never looked dangerous going forward. Teams will look to emulate Schalke’s performance against Leipzig.
Freiburg 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Freiburg were very much caught out in the match with visitors Eintracht Frankfurt taking complete control of the contest. The visitors provided plenty of chances against Freiburg but poor finishing cost Niko Kovač’s side.
Freiburg thought they had taken the lead when Tim Kleindienst put the ball in the back of the net, but the Video Assistant Referee stepped in as through the build up play, Florian Niederlechner came from an offside position. Frankfurt looked the likeliest to score but in the end, a draw was the result.
RB Leipzig Lineup
After a disappointing outing last time, Ralph Hasenhüttl will hope for a response in the home opener against Freiburg. Leipzig should be greeted by the return of Emil Forsberg to the starting line-up after playing 45 minutes against Schalke, Naby Keita moves into midfield alongside Konrad Laimer.
Dayot Upamecano didn’t have his best day at the office and we will see him drop to the bench with Marvin Compper joining Willi Orban in defence.
Freiburg battled to secure a point on the opening matchday but with a fired up RB Leipzig, Christian Streich’s men will have to be on their game. Streich has set out with the 3-4-3 this season which comes as a surprise.
The front three of Janik Haberer, Florian Niederlechner and Tim Kleindienst haven’t gelled as of yet but will be given another chance to impress. Nils Petersen will come off the bench whilst Marco Terrazzino will be pushing for a spot but will also have to settle for a cameo appearance.
Key Battle: Emil Forsberg vs Pascal Stenzel
A battle that will take place on the left side of midfield will be between Emil Forsberg and Pascal Stenzel. Forsberg has fully recovered from illness and played the second half in the defeat at Schalke. The Swede was monstrous in helping RB Leipzig to the Champions League as he had the most assists out of anyone in the top 5 leagues in Europe.
Stenzel is a former Dortmund player and spent last year on loan with Freiburg. However, most of his year was spent in the stands due to injury but there is no question on his ability, hence why Freiburg purchased the young 21-year old in the summer. This will be a great test for Stenzel, going up against one of the best midfield players in the Bundesliga, if he can keep Forsberg quite it will go a long way in helping Freiburg salvage something on Sunday.
Creating with plenty of possession
RB Leipzig were famed for gegenpressing opponents into mistakes before turning on the speed and scoring at will. However, last week Schalke made RB Leipzig play with possession and being that it wasn’t something they did last year, the side looked lost and ran out of ideas quickly.
Leipzig rarely tested Ralf Fährmann in the Schalke net and the Royal Blues gave RB a taste of their own medicine with two goals from the counter. If RB Leipzig cannot create chances with plenty of possession it will be a recipe for disaster, not just against Freiburg but for the season in general.
Freiburg will need all 14 players who feature to be in top form against a strong and dangerous RB Leipzig outfit. The club from the Black Forest have some interesting players like Nils Petersen who has scored 19 times in the Bundesliga coming off the bench. In Germany, Petersen is known as a Joker – otherwise known as a goal scoring super-sub.
His influence is extremely important especially if Florian Niederlechner and Tim Kleindienst fail to test Peter Gulacsi. Can Petersen find the back of the net in Leipzig?
Prediction: RB Leipzig 2-0 Freiburg
With neither side taking victory in Week 1, and the International break coming up, both clubs will look to have a win next to their name with no Bundesliga matches scheduled until the 9th of September. Leipzig are the big giant of the east and I believe last week was a momentary blip as they should ruin some weekends for Freiburg fans.
In both Bundesliga meetings, Leipzig have hit Freiburg for 4 and if the visitors can’t get their defensive responsibilities together, there is a good chance Timo Werner and Yussuf Poulsen will run riot.
Can Freiburg escape the Red Bull Arena with a point against RB Leipzig? Let us know in the comment section below.
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