RB Leipzig vs Schalke 04 Preview: Both sides look to keep unbeaten runs going

RB Leipzig vs Schalke 04 Preview: Both sides look to keep unbeaten runs going

Markus Weinzerl's Schalke side face a tough trip to Leipzig, with a view of keeping their unbeaten run going.

kaustubh-pandey
Kaustubh Pandey

Bundesliga leaders RB Leipzig will look to take down Markus Weinzerl's reinvigorated Schalke 04, with a view of keeping their unbeaten run in the league going and staying at the pinnacle of the charts.

Schalke, who had cruised to 3-1 win over SV Darmstadt 98 last week, thanks to goals from Alexander Schöpf, Sead Kolasinac and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, have not lost a game in the Bundesliga since their 4-0 thrashing of Borussia Mönchengladbach at Veltins Arena around a month ago. Their recovery from having failed to win a single game prior to the one against Foals suggests that getting their goalscoring touch back was vital for them.

Leipzig, on the other hand, have surprised many across the globe with the performances this season, let alone their position on the table. Ralph Hasenhüttl's men are the only unbeaten side in the German first division, barring Julian Nagelsmann's TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, who are on a draw streak currently. When it comes to streaks though, Leipzig are on a winning streak of their own as they have won their previous seven games.

Die Roten Bullen on a remarkable run

Few would have expected a side other Bayern Munich to top the Bundesliga table this early in the season. And the fact that a newly promoted side is doing so comes as a bigger surprise, apart from turning a lot of heads recently.

It hasn't been a fluke too. Hasenhüttl's men arguably deserve the recognition that they are currently getting, judging by the way they have played this season. And a massive amount of credit goes to Hasenhüttl's high-pressing system in a narrow 4-2-2-2 formation, which has extracted the most out of the players at his disposal.

Last week's 4-1 win over SC Freiburg saw young Timo Werner grab an impressive brace and another summer acquisition in Naby Keita score a wondergoal early in the game. The game goes to show how dominant they have been this season, whether its the attack or the defense.

The men from Eastern Germany have the second-best defensive record in the league, behind only Bayern Munich and 1. FC Köln. In terms of attack, Leizpig are the highest goalgetters in the league, tied with Borussia Dortmund, who have scored 27 times.

Apart from Werner, who has scored seven times already this season, the performances of Swedish star Emil Forsberg have caught the eyes of many. The former Malmo man has racked up seven assists and has found the back of the net as many as five times, playing a vital part in completing a side full of hard-workers and those who like to win the ball close to the goal.

Ever improving Royal Blues look to keep up good form

A winless run of five games early on in the season had forced many into thinking that Markus Weinzerl isn't the man to guide the Royal Blues forward. But unlike VfL Wolfsburg, who axed manager Dieter Hecking during times of struggle, Schalke's act of sticking to Weinzerl is apparently paying off.

The absence of Swiss star Breel Embolo seemingly hasn't affected Schalke by any means as consecutive wins after his injury haven't dented the goalscoring exploits. Embolo's exclusion has allowed the likes of Choupo-Moting and Schöpf to make their mark in the side. The contributions of Leon Goretzka and Tottenham loanee Nabil Bentaleb have been just as important.

Since that win over Gladbach, Schalke have conceded only three goals in seven games, which is ten less than the number of times they conceded  during the unenviable period. In terms of goals scored, Schalke may have found the back of the net the least number of times among the current top ten, they have scored 13 times in the last seven outings.

While last season's signing from Mainz- Johannes Geis has been one of the lesser appreciated stars of the side, Kolasinac's recent showings have earned him rave reviews too. When the likes of Choupo-Moting, Schöpf and Bentaleb have been active on the goalscoring front, Geis has done the defensive job to near perfection.

Minor injuries and suspensions for both sides

Although, both sides are devoid of any prominent injuries or suspensions but the absence of Alexander Schöpf would come as an incentive for Leipzig, who will still be without right-back Bernardo at the Red Bull Arena.

Franco di Santo is a doubt for the game, due to some stomach complaints and Atsuto Uchida is a long-term absentee.

Possible line-ups

RB Leipzig: (4-4-2) Gulasci; Schmitz, Ilsanker, Orban, Halstenburg; Sabitzer, Keita, Demme, Forsberg; Poulsen, Werner.

Schalke 04: (4-2-3-1) Fährmann; Höwedes, Naldo, Nastasic, Kolasinac; Geis, Bentaleb, Konoplyanka, Goretzka, Meyer; Choupo-Moting

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