RB Leipzig And Leverkusen Set To Clash As Each Side Looks To Keep Title Hopes Alive
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Julian Nagelsmann and Peter Bosz, two of the Bundesliga's most exciting managers, will square off on Saturday in a game that could have a significant impact on the race for the league title.
Not long to go until we take on @bayer04_en on Saturday evening!Here's all the key stats you need for #RBLB04
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) January 28, 2021
Second-placed Leipzig is seven points off league-leading Bayern Munich, while Bosz's Leverkusen is in third, 10 points behind the champions. Leipzig will seek to return to winning ways after a humbling 3-2 defeat to bottom-three side Mainz last time out. Nagelsmann's side has won just two of its last five in the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen has gone through a similar slump in form, having lost four of its last six league games and won just once. The two sides, which each boast the second-best goal differential in the league (+14), have played out a 1-1 draw in each of their last three meetings.
Bosz, well known for his desired attacking style of play, has had the Leverkusen front three flying so far this season. Jamaican winger Leon Bailey is enjoying his most productive season in years, having already surpassed last year's goal tally of seven. He's scored nine and provided seven assists so far in all competitions.
Peter Bosz: “You should turn on the television tomorrow, it will be an attractive game. We play attractive and attacking football, just like our opponents tomorrow."
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) January 29, 2021
Moussa Diaby, who plays opposite Bailey on the left wing, enjoyed a successful introductory campaign in the Bundesliga last season after arriving from Paris Saint-Germain but has taken things up a notch this year as well. In 2,550 minutes across 39 appearences in 2019-20, Diaby scored eight goals and assisted eight more. This season, he has already matched his tally of goals while providing seven assists in 2,040 minutes.
"We also have an attacking philosophy at Bayer," Diaby told Bundesliga.com ahead of the matchup. "So, it's great for an attacker like myself. I like high-intensity games with lots of chances and lots of space. I'm very happy playing here."
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) January 28, 2021
Center forward Patrik Schick has scored seven goals in 984 minutes while Lucas Alario leads the team with 12 despite almost half of his appearances coming as a substitute this term.
Leverkusen will have to overcome Leipzig's strong home form if it hopes to take anything from Saturday's game; Nagelsmann's side is undefeated in 21 of its last 23 games at the Red Bull Arena. On the injury front, both sides have been hit hard recently. Nagelsmann will be without Emil Forsberg, Konrad Laimer, Benjamin Henrichs and new signing Dominik Szoboszlai, while Lamar Samardzic and Hwang Hee-chan are also doubts. Ibrahima Konate is expected to return to the squad after recovering from injury.
For Bosz and Leverkusen, Julian Baumgartlinger will be out until May after undergoing surgery, and Exequiel Palacios, Paulinho, Santiago Arias and Mitchell Weiser are all missing as well. Nadiem Amiri is out after testing positive for Covid-19 and new signing Jeremie Frimpong must enter quarantine before Bosz can integrate him into the side.
Saturday's matchup, set to kick off at 12:30 p.m. ET (ESPN+), will pit two star-studded attacks against one another.
"My approach is attacking football with a compact defense," Bosz said of his side's setup. "With this playing style, I want to entertain the fans in the stadium. People should see a great game. When I go home, I should say: 'Wow, that was exciting.'"
Whatever happens, spectators should be in for a treat as both sides look to keep the pressure on Bayern.