Manuel Veth –
RB Leipzig vs Schalke – Saturday, September 28, 14:30BST/15:30CEST – Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany
“We are not already in the process of decorating the city hall balcony,” Julian Nagelsmann said this week about a potential championship celebration at the end of the season. Currently first in the Bundesliga, RB Leipzig, however, have slowly established themselves as a serious title candidate thanks to work by new head coach Nagelsmann.
What makes Leipzig dangerous. No other club has more strength in depth than the Red Bulls. Although Nagelsmann is currently without several injured players, the sheer quantity of quality players means that the head coach can rotate his side, both tactically but also athletically.
Thirteen goals scored and only three conceded in five Bundesliga games speak underline Leipzig’s strength. Without a doubt against Schalke, Leipzig will be the favourites on Saturday, but Schalke have had a good start to the season as well, and Nagelsmann warned this week over taking the opposition too lightly.
“Schalke have improved a lot in terms of athleticism – the stats back that up,” Nagelsmann said. “They work hard off the ball and press courageously,” Nagelsmann added.
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Die Knappen have indeed developed a hint of Jürgen Klopp football at the early stages of new head coach David Wagner’s rebuild. No other team has completed more than Schalke’s 235 sprints this season and Die Knappen are fourth in the league with 116.2 km on the average run. “We have changed a few things,” sporting director Jochen Schneider said this week. “Everyone knows what they have to do,” he added.
Without a doubt, the Royal Blues are experiencing a bit of a renaissance. But is it enough to take points off league leaders RB Leipzig? We will find out on Saturday.
RB Leipzig vs Schalke – Players to look out for:
Marcel Sabitzer #7 – RB Leipzig
Marcel Sabitzer has been excellent this season. The Austrian attacking midfielder has been the quiet star has made a big step forward under Nagelsmann this season. Calm and collective with good vision to play the deadly pass but also the instinct to identify good goalscoring opportunities Sabitzer has already collected two goals and three assists this season.
Amine Harit #25 – FC Schalke 04
Amine Harit is on the way to resurrect what has been once a promising career. The Moroccan national team player was involved in a deadly car accident last year and seemingly struggled under Domenico Tedesco. But under Wagner Harit has been excellent and has been the club’s most dangerous player with three goals and one assist in five Bundesliga games.
RB Leipzig vs Schalke – Match Stats
- Schalke have not won any of their last 14 games against the first-placed team in the Bundesliga (D2 L12).
- Schalke’s last victory over the first-placed team in the league dates back to the club’s 1-0 win over Gladbach in August 2011.
- RB Leipzig’s home record against Schalke: W2 D1 L0.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: RB Leipzig vs Schalke – 3-1
RB Leipzig vs Schalke – Lineups
Gulacsi – Konaté, Upamecano, Orban – Mukiele, Demme, Saracchi – Sabitzer, Forsberg – Werner, Poulsen
Head Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Nübel – Kenny, Stambouli, Nastašić, Oczipka – Mascarell, Serdar – Caligiuri, Uth, Harit – Burgstaller
Head Coach: David Wagner
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.