FC Augsburg vs RB Leipzig Preview: Fuggerstädter looking for significant scalp

FC Augsburg vs RB Leipzig Preview: Fuggerstädter looking for significant scalp

They haven't beaten a top-half side all season and it will be a tough ask with the visitors looking to repeat their victory from the reverse fixture.

James Rees

FC Augsburg play host to RB Leipzig in the opening game of match day 23 in the Bundesliga, hoping to beat a top-half side for the first time this season.

However, after a little wobble in early February, Leipzig appear to be on top form once again and could, temporarily at least, close the gap on leaders Bayern with a win on Friday night.

Hosts have poor record against the league’s top teams

Augsburg have done enough to keep them out of the midst of the relegation battle since the winter break, beating strugglers VfL Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen and, last Saturday, SV Darmstadt 98 but losing their other three games against sides currently above them in the table, where they sit thirteenth. FC Ingolstadt 04 and Borussia Mönchengladbach are the only other teams they’ve beaten this season.

After defeats to Borussia Dortmund and, more surprisingly, Hamburger SV, Leipzig have returned to form with victories over Mönchengladbach and 1. FC Köln. They now find themselves five points behind leaders Bayern Munich, but still have a firm grip on second with Dortmund still eight points behind.

Leipzig became the first promoted side to stay unbeaten in the first six Bundesliga matches when they beat Augsburg in September, a run they eventually extended to 13 matches. Ji Dong-Wong had equalised for the visitors soon after Emil Forsberg had given Leipzig the lead, but Yussuf Poulsen scored the winner early in the second half.

Augsburg had won the only two previous meetings with Leipzig, which both came in the DFB-Pokal. They can take heart from the fact that two of Leipzig’s three away defeats this season have come in Bavaria, against Ingolstadt and Bayern. The more recent form guide though suggests the visitors to the WWK Arena will complete the double over them on Friday night.

Hassenhüttl praises his counterpart

Despite their poor record against the league’s top sides this season, Manuel Baum believes it is “high time” they bucked the trend. “The team certainly has the quality to do it,” he added. He believes that Leipzig’s obvious strength is that “they’re incredibly quick, both physically and mentally.”

However goalkeeper Marwin Hitz believes they can counter that with their own pace. He also believes that the side are showing in training that they “can really get something going again here” after an inconsistent showing show far this season.

The last time the two teams met Dirk Schuster had been in charge of die Fuggerstädter, however Leipzig coach Ralph Hassenhüttl believes that “you can see how Augsburg have improved” since Baum took over. He said they were “tactically different” now, and would be harder to beat.

Having played almost the entire season with a 4-2-2-2 system, Leipzig played in a 4-3-3 against Köln last weekend, and Hassenhüttl said it remained “open” how they would play in Bavaria. However he believes that variability is good for his side, who are “capable of adapting to play against any system” that they come up against.

Bobadilla a doubt for Augsburg

Augsburg will still be without all of Jonathan Schmid, Jeffrey Gouweleeuw, Alfred Finnbogason and Daniel Baier through injury, whilst Raúl Bobadilla is a doubt after a knock to his ribs against Darmstadt.

Baum said they would "have to wait and see after our next training session” on whether Bobadilla would be able to play. He had played in all six of Augsburg’s games since the winter break, having played in just five beforehand after shoulder and calf injuries.

There are no new injury concerns for Leipzig. Oliver Burke is still out with a thigh injury, although he has returned to training, whilst Lukas Klostermann and Poulsen are also still injured.

Predicted line-ups

FC Augsburg: (4-2-3-1) Hitz; Verhaegh, Hinteregger, Stafylidis; Kohr, Morávek; Koo, Altintop, Teigl; Ji.

RB Leipzig: (4-3-3) Gulásci; Schmitz, Orban, Compper, Halsenberg; Demme, Ilsanker, Keïta; Sabitzer, Werner, Forsberg.

Quotes via FC Augsburg and RB Leipzig.