Leipzig a Different Beast on the Road

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The battle for Champion's League places between Leipzig and Hoffenheim takes place this evening.

Benjamin Hubner playing for Hoffenheim

With games running out, RB Leipzig’s hopes of a title success have all but evaporated thanks to Bayern Munich’s perfect return to action following the coronavirus pandemic.

Despite extending their unbeaten run to 12 matches in all competitions, Die Roten Bullen have lost ground on the champions, and now need a perfect run-in combined with four successive defeats for Bayern to have any chance of landing the Bunesdliga spoils – an unlikely scenario, of course.

More pertinently, Julian Nagelsmann’s men will be looking to secure Champions League football for next season, while hoping to usurp Borussia Dortmund to emulate their best-ever finish of their 2015-16 campaign and claim second place.

Top Four Rivals

Leipzig have the chance to put the pressure on their top-four rivals for this round of matches as they play first on Friday evening, although, on the face of it, they may not have things all their own way with Hoffenheim having their own aspirations of clinching a European place.

Leipzig have been installed as the 4/9* favourites to consolidate their position of third in the table and move to within one point of BVB, while the home side can be backed at 5/1 to secure the win with the draw at 4/1.

Hoffenheim restarted their season with a thumping 3-0 home defeat at the hands of a resurgent Hertha Berlin side but have bounced back to put together a four-game unbeaten run (two wins, two draws) to climb up to seventh, two points behind sixth-placed Wolfsburg.

With Freiburg just two points behind, the need for the win is every bit as great as for Leipzig, although the stats, unsurprisingly, point to the team highest in the table.

Although Leipzig have stuttered since the league’s resumption, the three games they have not won (all draws) have all come at the Red Bull Arena, while they have won both on the road, and in convincing fashion too, with nine goals scored and only two conceded.

Four Match Unbeaten Stretch

Die Kraichgauer may have seen an upturn in results, but their four-match unbeaten run has come against teams struggling against relegation and they failed to beat bottom-side Paderborn, or 16th-placed Fortuna Dusseldorf.

In a strange coincidence, Hoffenheim’s two victories since the restart have come against the same sides that Leipzig have beaten on the road with the aggregate scores reading 9-2 to 4-1 in the visitors’ favour.

While RB Leipzig’s home form since the restart has mirrored a league-wide pattern, Hoffenheim have struggled at the PreZero Arena all season, picking up more points on the road while they have lost eight out of 15 matches on their own patch, with only bottom-side Paderborn having leaked more home goals.

Leipzig are the third-highest scorers in the division but rank a place higher on away stats, having scored 39 goals while their concession of just 15 is the joint-best record – ironically, along with Friday’s opponents, and two better than leaders Bayern.

What also looks to be working against Hoffenheim is their first-half performance, another area in which Leipzig can capitalise.

Only five times in 30 games have Hoffenheim held a first-half lead, the second worst record in the division, while Leipzig are third in those standings.

Although achtzehn99’s improved second-half performances might offer some encouragement should they be behind, so have the Red Bulls as they lie second only to Bayern.

Nagelsmann’s side are priced at 20/23 to win the first half, while that coupled with a visiting success in the half-time/full-time betting is available at Evens.

Head-to-Head Stats Favour Leipzig

The head-to-head stats are also in favour of Nagelsmann’s outfit as they have won three of the last four meetings between the two, drawing the other, while they triumphed 2-1 on their last visit to the PreZero Arena.

What could also tip the balance in the visitors’ favour is this week’s surprisingly-timed news that Hoffenheim confirmed that they were parting ways with manager Alfred Schreuder with immediate effect.

The Dutchman was under contract until the end of the 2021-22 season but a difference of opinion over the future direction of the club, possibly due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, has led to his, along with that of his brother and assistant coach Dick Schreuder, departure.

With just four games left and a European place a real possibility, the timing could have been better with a team of coaches left at the club, along with director of professional football Alexander Rosen, now set to oversee the run-in.

*All odds correct at time of writing

Rob has around 20 years journalism experience and has written and commentated on the likes of football, cricket and rugby. He also has an impressive background in racquet sports and regularly provides content on the likes of tennis and badminton.
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