Leipzig vs Celtic – Thursday, October 25, 17:55BST/18:55 CEST – RB Arena, Leipzig, Germany
RasenBallsport Leipzig dropped points on Saturday against FC Augsburg. That 0-0 draw, however, showed that the club has won stability under interims head coach/sporting director Ralf Rangnick.
After losing 4-1 to Borussia Dortmund die Roten Bullen have been undefeated in seven Bundesliga matches. Only in the club’s first Bundesliga season two years ago did the club manage a longer series without a defeat (13). Like it was the case back then the defence has been the foundation of Leipzig’s success.
Rangnick rebuilt the club’s defence after the horrendous 2-3 defeat to sister club FC Salzburg. Hungarian national team defender Willi Orban was ordered to centre the four-man defence, and as a result, Leipzig have conceded just five goals in the last seven games.
“Our central defence is in good form,” Rangnick told kicker following the 0-0 draw against Augsburg. Stability in the back and 16 goals in eight Bundesliga games means that Leipzig are sitting in fifth place in the Bundesliga standings just one point behind champions Bayern.
In the Europa League Leipzig hammered Rosenborg Trondheim 3-1 on matchday 2 to make up for the unnecessary defeat against Salzburg. In other words, die Roten Bullen are in fantastic form and under Rangnick have finally learned how to handle the weekend-midweek schedule that comes with playing in the Europa League.
All of that is not good news for RB Leipzig’s opponent on Thursday night. Scottish giants Celtic have shown some surprising weaknesses under current head coach Brendan Rodgers this season.
Second in the Scottish Premiership behind Heart of Midlothian Celtic have dropped points three times this season already (0-1 against Hearts, 0-0 against St. Mirren and 1-2 against Kilmarnock). In Europa League Celtic followed an unconvincing 1-0 victory with a 3-1 defeat to FC Salzburg.
Hence, Rodgers found himself under pressure. On the weekend Celtic, however, were impressive against Hibernian walking away with a 4-2 victory. That result means that Celtic remain on pace with Hearts of Midlothian and the favourites to win their eighth Premiership title in a row. But overall Scottish football has suffered from Celtic’s monopoly over the league, and the club also lost top striker Moussa Dembélé this summer – he joined Olympique Lyon for €22 million.
Leipzig, in the meantime, are a team on the up and are likely to finish in the top four of the Bundesliga table. Furthermore, the club’s early season problems seem to have smoothed out under the experienced Rangnick, and as a result, Leipzig should be collecting all three points in this match.
Leipzig vs Celtic – Players to look out for:
Marcel Sabitzer #7 – RB Leipzig
Marcel Sabitzer came off the bench in the 0-0 draw against Augsburg. Head coach Rangnick, however, has rotated his squad significantly using almost two different teams for Bundesliga and Europa League matchups. As a result, expect the Austrian to be in the lineup against Celtic and to be a key player for die Roten Bullen. A variable attacking midfielder Sabitzer can play almost every position in midfield and when on form can completely dictate the tempo of his side.
Odsonne Edouard #22 – Celtic
Odsonne Edouard was on fantastic form this weekend against Hibernian. Signed from Paris Saint-Germain for €10.3 million this summer the 20-year-old French U-19 national team player has already scored four goals and one assist in eight Premiership games. The striker has also added three goals in five Champions League qualification games and one goal in two Europa League games.
Leipzig vs Celtic – Match Stats
- Having defeated Häcken of Sweden and Romania’s Universitatea Craiova in the first two qualifying rounds this season, Leipzig needed a last-gasp penalty from Emil Forsberg to win their play-off 3-2 on aggregate against Ukrainian club Zorya Luhansk.
- That successful spot-kick enabled Leipzig to prolong their winning run at home in Europe to five matches, but that sequence ended against Salzburg on matchday one. Their overall home record in Europe is now W6 D1 L3.
- Celtic have won only three of their 22 matches against German opposition (D5 L14) and none of the 11 in Germany (D3 L8), where they have scored just four goals.
- Two of their last three visits, however, have resulted in draws, including their only previous UEFA Europa League encounter in the country – 0-0 at Hamburg in the 2009/10 group stage.
- The Glasgow club have never won away from home in 13 UEFA Europa League group games (D8 L5), but they have scored in all but two of them, including each of the last nine.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Leipzig vs Celtic – 3-0
Leipzig vs Celtic – Lineups
Mvogo – Halstenberg, Upamecano, Orban, Klostermann – Kampl, Demme – Bruma, Sabitzer – Werner, Matheus Cunha
Head Coach: Ralf Rangnick
Gordon – Boyata, Benkovic, Lustig – Tierney, Ntcham, Brown, Forrest – Rogic, Edouard, McGregor
Head Coach: Brendan Rodgers
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.