RB Leipzig will be looking to cut the gap between themselves and the Champions League places in the Bundesliga when they host Arminia Bielefeld at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
The hosts will be expected to win comfortably in the final round of matches before the winter break, whilst the visitors have given themselves a small chance of survival following a couple of wins in recent weeks.
Whilst new boss Domenico Tedesco has halted the run of three straight Bundesliga defeats by picking up four points from his first two matches at Leipzig, the German failed to solve his new side’s away day problems in midweek.
After comprehensively winning his first match in charge by defeating Borussia Monchengladbach 4-1 on home soil last weekend, Tedesco took Die Roten Bullen to Augsburg on Wednesday evening.
With three draws and four defeats being recorded from predecessor Jesse Marsch’s seven away league games prior to the trip to the WWK Arena, a 1-1 draw with their relegation-threatened opponents ensured the wait for a first away league win of the season will go on until the new year.
Following a bright start though, which saw Andre Silva net for his third game in a row, Leipzig looked set to end that winless streak, but a resurgence from their hosts in the second half led to a late equaliser from the penalty spot following Benjamin Henrichs’s handball in the area.
As a result, the expected title challengers dropped to ninth place following matchday 16 in midweek, with five points between themselves and Hoffenheim in the final Champions League spot.
With a home match against another relegation candidate to come on Saturday, Tedesco will be expected to lead his side to a comfortable three points in an effort to close that gap heading into the winter break.
Home form has largely not been an issue for last season’s runners-up this campaign, with six wins and two defeats – against leaders Bayern Munich and third-placed Bayer Leverkusen – being picked up from their eight previous Bundesliga home games to date.
As for the visitors, Tuesday evening’s 2-0 win over newly-promoted side VfL Bochum was nothing short of huge for boss Frank Kramer and his side.
Although the encounter was far from a spectacle due to the lack of clear opportunities, three points were what mattered for Die Arminen in their quest to avoid the drop from the top flight.
Masaya Okugawa and Patrick Wimmer netted second-half goals to provide the points, which did not alter their position in the relegation zone, but did manage to cut the gap to Augsburg and Stuttgart to four points ahead of the daunting trip to Leipzig.
The strugglers will not be expected to build on that win, but will head to the giants with some confidence and a small glimmer of hope following the crucial result.
After the opening 10 matches of the campaign yielded just six goals and no wins, Bielefeld appeared doomed already, but picking up two victories and only falling to defeat twice across their past six fixtures means they have managed to crawl their way back into survival contention ahead of the winter break.
Although they have managed just the four goals in their seven away trips so far this season, Kramer’s side have only conceded nine at the other end too, so another defensively solid showing similar to the one that saw them narrowly fall 1-0 to Bayern at the Allianz Arena just a few weeks ago would give them a chance of picking up a vital point from the Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
RB Leipzig Bundesliga form:
RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
Arminia Bielefeld Bundesliga form:
We say: RB Leipzig 2-0 Arminia Bielefeld
Whilst the visitors will arrive at the Red Bull Arena with a spring in their step following a huge win in midweek, the hosts should possess far too much quality for them on Saturday.
Bielefeld will remain compact and look to make it difficult for Leipzig to break them down, but for all the home side’s struggles this campaign, they do remain strong at home and should record a comfortable victory as a result.