RB Leipzig will be out to cut the gap between themselves and the Champions League places when they take on relegation-threatened Stuttgart at the Mercedes Benz Arena on Saturday.
The hosts returned from the Bundesliga’s winter break with a goalless draw in a huge relegation clash last weekend, whilst the visitors began 2022 brightly with a comprehensive victory on home soil.
The return of last season’s top goalscorer to the starting lineup could not help Stuttgart overcome bottom-of-the-table Greuther Furth in their relegation clash last weekend.
Sasa Kalajdzic had been missing since matchday two, but even with the Austrian leading the line at Greuther, Pellegrino Matarazzo’s side failed to score for the third consecutive game.
Following the draw in a cagey affair last time out, as well as back-to-back defeats to Bayern Munich and FC Koln prior to the winter break, Die Roten remain dangerously close to the drop out of the top flight.
Stuttgart head into matchday 19 outside of the relegation places by a single point, but level on points with Augsburg in the relegation playoff spot below them.
As a result, the ‘second-season syndrome’ remains a real possibility at Saturday’s hosts, as an impressive ninth-placed finish on their return to the Bundesliga last campaign is in real danger of being followed up by a relegation to the 2.Bundesliga this season.
Despite their struggles so far this season though, Stuttgart can retain some confidence ahead of their clash with Leipzig on Saturday, with 11 of their 18 points, and 16 of their 22 goals scored so far, all being registered on home soil to this point.
Meanwhile, visitors Leipzig began 2022 with a thoroughly deserved 4-1 victory over Mainz 05 at the Red Bull Arena last weekend.
However, the encounter could have played out very differently had Alexander Hack not been shown a straight red card inside 19 minutes for their opponents, with Andre Silva then netting the resulting penalty to provide Die Roten Bullen with a comfortable return to action.
Christopher Nkunku came on at half time, and he continued his fine form of 2021 by providing two assists as well as a goal for himself in a man-of-the-match display inside 45 minutes.
Despite the one-man advantage for much of the game though, Leipzig showed plenty of signs of a side being back to its free-flowing attacking best, with numerous goalscoring opportunities created in front of the Mainz goal.
As a result of the win, Domenico Tedesco’s men head to Stuttgart in ninth place in the Bundesliga table, now just three points off the Europa League places, and five off the targeted Champions League spots.
With the opportunity to cut that gap to two this weekend, Tedesco will be eager for his side to build some momentum and a run of form in the New Year, and put their disappointing start to the season well behind them.
However, in order to do so, the visitors must correct their awful showings on the road up to this point, which has led to them drawing four and losing four of their opening eight away games this season.
Stuttgart Bundesliga form:
RB Leipzig Bundesliga form:
RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
We say: Stuttgart 1-2 RB Leipzig
We are going for Leipzig to pick up their first away win of the season in this one on Saturday.
The hosts are stronger at home but whilst they are likely to make it a tight encounter, the visitors should see them off in the end if they can replicate their strong showing against Mainz last weekend, in a true display of the quality that they possess.