RB Leipzig vs Hertha – Sunday, December 17, 17:00GMT/18:00CET – Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany
Just one more game and RB Leipzig can finally go in the much-deserved winter break. Four matches without a victory in all competitions Leipzig have shown signs that the squad might be a tiny bit too thin to play in both Europe and domestic competitions.
After giving away two leads against Mainz last Saturday and a sluggish 1-1 draw against Wolfsburg on Tuesday Ralph Hasenhüttl told the press that his side is going on thin threads at the moment. “The team is struggling we have to rescue us into the winter break.” Kevin Kampl admitted that a season with this many games has been “a learning process.” Injuries to Jean-Kevin Augustin, Bernardo, Emil Forsberg and Marcel Sabitzer also have not helped the situation. The former three will likely return on Sunday making it a bit easier for Hasenhüttl to select his best eleven.
The recent process is perhaps a sign that for now Leipzig have reached the limits of their rapid growth. The squad lacks depth and experience for more, on the other hand the achievements have been remarkable for a club that played in Liga 3 only four years ago. Furthermore, the limitations of Financial Fair Play and the philosophy of only signing younger players made it difficult for Leipzig to take any other path. Also despite the recent run of form Leipzig are still third in the league and will likely return to the Champions League next season, which will give the club more room to grow in the medium term.
First things first, however, comes a Sunday evening clash with Hertha Berlin. Like Leipzig, Hertha have been shown their limits this season. Returning to the Europa League after a prolonged abstinence Berlin struggled with the rhythm of having to combine domestic with international football. Eliminated from their Europa League group, Hertha are currently just 11th in the table.
Beating Hannover 96 on Wednesday Hertha have given themselves some room to the relegation spots and at the same time are still within reach of the European places. But given the strength of clubs in the upper half of the table it will be unlikely that Hertha can reproduce their finish from last season and reach the Europa League group stage. Coached by Pal Dardai the club instead will have to take baby steps in order to reach the concert of the Bundesliga big boys in the long-term.
In the short-term Hertha will want another positive result going into the winter break. Like RB Leipzig the side have struggled with fitness making the game on Sunday a test of wills in which RB Leipzig’s quality should make the decisive difference.
RB Leipzig vs Hertha – Players to look out for:
Emil Forsberg #10 – RB Leipzig
Emil Forsberg will be back for Leipzig on Sunday. The 26-year-old Swedish attacking midfielder led Leipzig in assists last season and is a crucial player in Hasenhüttl’s 4-2-2-2 system. Injuries have, however, slowed the Swede down and just one goal and two assists are too little for a player of his calibre. Getting Forsberg on form will therefore be the priority for Leipzig’s technical department, because only with the Swede on form can Leipzig expect to push for a Champions League spot this season.
Davie Selke #27 – Hertha Berlin
Davie Selke was supposed to become the face of the new Hertha when he was signed from RB Leipzig this summer. Starting the season with injury problems, however, Selke has managed just nine Bundesliga games in which he scored two goals and three assists. But at the same time, Selke has added more depth to Hertha’s attack, and there have been signs that the striker is slowly getting adapted to life in the German capital. Now on Sunday, the striker will return to the club whereby any measure he failed to nail down a place in the starting eleven last season. Escaping Leipzig Selke will now want to show his former club that it was a mistake to let him go last summer.
RB Leipzig vs Hertha – Match Stats
- RB Leipzig have not won in four games the longest series without a win since the 2014-15 Bundesliga 2 season.
- RB Leipzig won both their games against Hertha last season.
- It was the first two victories for RB Leipzig head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl, who had lost the previous four clashes against Hertha.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: RB Leipzig vs Hertha 2-1
RB Leipzig vs Hertha – Lineups
Gulasci – Klostermann, Ilsanker, Orban, Halstenberg – Keïta, Demme – Kampl, Forsberg – Poulsen, Werner
Head Coach: Ralph Hasenhüttl
Jarstein – Pekarik, Stark, Langkamp, Plattenhardt – Skjelbred, Maier – Leckie, Lazaro, Kalou – Selke
Head Coach: Pal Dardai
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and social media editor at Bundesliga.com. 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 will be available in print soon. 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.