Leipzig seek return to form and top four at lowly Mainz


RB Leipzig will be looking to end a run of three consecutive draws and move back into the Champions League places when they visit relegation threatened Mainz on Sunday afternoon.

The hosts will be out for a healthy dose of revenge, following an embarrassing 8-0 battering in the reverse fixture before Christmas; it was Leipzig’s biggest Bundesliga win in the club’s short history.

Where they stand

A disappointing 1-1 at home to Freiburg, in which the visitors had a last-minute winner disallowed by the tightest of VAR offside calls, saw Leipzig’s title challenge fade last week.

It was their third consecutive draw and ninth overall (a Bundesliga high), which has seen them fall to fifth despite having the league’s fewest defeats so far (three in 26 matches).

A win will see them move back up to third and onto 54 points though, overtaking both Leverkusen (53) and Mönchengladbach (52).

Leipzig’s away record (7-4-2, 30-13) is second only to Bayern Munich too and with the coronavirus crowd restrictions almost nullifying home advantage, they will expect a return to winning ways against their lowly opponents in the Rhineland.

A win for Mainz, meanwhile, would see them at least temporarily pull seven points clear of Düsseldorf, in the relegation playoff place, and take a step toward safety.

The hosts would surely take another draw against their high-flying visitors, after a second half fightback from 2-0 down earnt Mainz a respectable point at Köln in their first match back.

That draw made it three unbeaten either side of the Bundesliga shutdown and just one defeat in six (2-3-1) for the team currently fourth bottom of the table.

Before their recent run, Mainz hadn’t tied a game all season – winning six and losing 14 of their first 20 games.

Team news

Highly-rated defender Dayot Upamecano should retake his place at the heart of Leipzig’s back three, ahead of Nordi Mukiele, after being suspended last weekend.

Welsh centre back Ethan Ampadu, on loan from Chelsea, will miss out with a back problem though, whilst Ibrahima Konaté is also out and Emil Forsberg is doubtful as he recovers from tonsillitis.

Leipzig’s star man, 21-goal striker Timo Werner, will be looking to rediscover his scoring touch after netting just once in his last eight appearances.

For the hosts, Jean-Philippe Mateta returns from suspension. Florian Muller will continue in the Mainz goal though, with Robin Zentner unlikely to return before next season due to a knee injury.

Nigerian forward Taiwo Awoniyi, on loan from Liverpool, will be pushing for a place in the starting line-up after scoring within minutes of coming off the bench to kickstart their comeback last time out.

RB Leipzig boss Julian Nagelsmann has dismissed the significance of the sides’ last meeting:

“The 8-0 result hasn’t been relevant to our preparations.”

Nagelsmann added: “A candle and a campfire are, per se, the same thing – fire. But the candle goes out when there is a headwind.

“The campfire really starts to burn and burns more. The headwind is coming extremely. But we’re not a candle, we’re a campfire.”

Mainz manager Achim Beierlorzer, who was once in temporary charge of the visitors, has also been paying little attention to the 8-0 hammering his team receiving in the reverse fixture:

He said: “It doesn’t matter anymore; you have to check it off. I felt great energy in the team, we [have]worked intensively [this week].

He continued: “We want to be more than a sparring partner. We need a good balance of courage, self-confidence. We need tight spaces, short distances.

“RB is a top team. It is self-explanatory that you always need a lot against such opponents.”


About Author

Comments are closed.