One of the most exciting features of this Bundesliga (BL) season has been the resurgence of Schalke, who powered their way to second in the BL before the Christmas break. Schalke are probably now champing at the bit to get things started again, as they travel to the ‘most hated team in Germany’ – RB Leipzig.
Flashscore presents the key facts before the match:
After a stellar debut season in the BL last year, Leipzig have struggled this season so far. Be it due to their Champions League commitments or just the ‘second season syndrome’, Leipzig find themselves fifth in the table (28pts). That puts them just two points behind Schalke, while the teams from third to 11th are separated by just five points!
The visitors find themselves in second place in the BL table thanks to their stellar finish to 2017. Schalke are unbeaten in 11 BL matches (W5, D6) with their last loss coming at Hoffenheim in September. This is Schalke’s longest unbeaten run in 11 years and they will hope to start 2018 in the same way!
Leipzig endured their first home loss of the season before the break. However, that loss to Hertha Berlin shouldn’t take anything away from their decent home record in eight games this season (W5, D2, L1). Schalke’s away form is almost a replica of their hosts home form as they have picked up only one loss – to Bayern Munich – in nine matches (W5, D3, L1).
Key battle 1: Naby Keita can be excused for having one eye on his move to Liverpool this summer. Although he is yet to hit the highs of last season, the Guinean is still the heart of Leipzig’s midfield. After being converted into a defensive midfielder at the start of this season, Schalke’s Max Meyer has started influencing games and how!
Key battle 2: Timo Werner is one of the best young German strikers and is already Leipzig’s top scorer with eight goals. He will be up against the veteran Schalke centre-back Naldo, who has won 75% of his individual duels!
Stat attack: Schalke have conceded more goals (six) to opposition substitute players than any other team in the BL, while 50% (four out of eight) of Leipzig’s home matches have seen over 3.5 goals scored. There have been only three meetings between these sides so far, with the sides winning one each and drawing the other.
RB Leipzig: F. Coltorti (doubtful), E. Forsberg (doubtful), M. Halstenberg (doubtful)
Schalke: P. Insua (ribs injury), L. Goretzka (doubtful), S. Riether (doubtful).