Will RB Leipzig Suffer From a Europa League Hangover Against Hoffenheim?

RB Leipzig

After a fascinating mid-week of European action, attentions turn back to domestic football. There are a number of teams in Germany still in contention to secure the coveted spots, two of which will go head-to-head on Sunday. RB Leipzig are almost unrecognisable since Domenico Tedesco took over and they will be hosting Europa League hopefuls Hoffenheim.

RB Leipzig Looking to Compete on Two Fronts

The season so far

As the table shows, RB Leipzig are the team to have had a better season to date. It was a very slow start under the stewardship of Jesse Marsch but with the American no longer in the picture, things are looking up. Not only are Leipzig one of the favourites of the eight remaining teams in the Europa League, but they are putting on a show in the league too. Hoffenheim themselves are hardly pushovers though- a win in this fixture could take them within a point of Leipzig and therefore, fourth place.

Going back to the previously mentioned Europa League and it was a dominant performance from RB Leipzig last time out versus Atalanta. As well as Andre Silva missing from the penalty spot against the Italians, the woodwork was struck a number of times by Tedesco’s men. Hoffenheim themselves have enjoyed European ventures in the past and will be determined to thwart RB Leipzig in the pursuit of their own ambitions.

Form Favours RB Leipzig

Form does favour RB Leipzig but that isn’t to say that their counterparts are struggling currently. Back-to-back losses at the hands of Bochum and Hertha Berlin are poor either side of the international break but prior to that, they picked up 13 points from a possible 15. They beat the likes of Köln away from home and Stuttgart at the Rhein-Neckar Arena with the only dropped points coming in a 1-1 tie with Bayern Munich.

Christoph Baumgartner netted twice late on against Stuttgart to turn the game on the head and was also on target against the defending champions. Andrej Kramaric and Munas Dabbur are the two usual strikers but with four and three league goals respectively, this Baumgartner form may well be coming at the perfect time.

Turning attention back towards the home side and more often than not, they have looked indestructible since the turn of the year. One has to go back to early February to find the last time Leipzig were defeated. This loss came at the hands of Bayern Munich. Since then they put six past Hertha Berlin and Furth, both thumping’s coming away from home. Along with that, in a huge clash against Dortmund, Die Roten Bullen ran riot, winning 4-1. Konrad Laimer popped up with an unlikely brace in the first half whilst Christopher Nkunku and Dani Olmo beat Gregor Kobel after the break.

It can be said how RB Leipzig fare directly after a Europa League knockout game given that they received a bye beyond Spartak Moscow and into the quarter-finals. They won both Bundesliga games following both of their February clashes with Real Sociedad of La Liga though so this points towards there being no hangover come Sunday.

Who Can Make the Difference?

It seems quite difficult to talk about RB Leipzig without mentioning Christopher Nkunku but that just speaks to just how talented he is. European’s elite are on red alert when it comes to the future of the Frenchman and rightly so. In the Bundesliga, Nkunku has contributed to a ridiculous 27 goals in 28 appearances (26 of which were starts).

Another name worth mentioning amidst the RB Leipzig ranks is young centre-half Josko Gvardiol. In both his physical nature and the way he plays the game, it seems incomprehensible that Gvardiol is just 20. The Croat has been a regular this season and he, along with Frenchman Mohamed Simakan, who is also extraordinarily young, have been ever so resolute at the back.

In terms of the opponents for RB Leipzig, Hoffenheim have gone under the radar in a lot of ways. It may well not be the case in Germany, but further afield, not many people are talking about the great job that Sebastian Hoeneß is doing in just his second season with the club.

Florian Grillitsch is a man who could soon be on the move plus German international David Raum is also attracting a lot of interest, but Ihlas Bebou is the man to watch in my eyes. Bebou faces a very mobile centre-back duo but if he stays central and matches up with the ageing Willi Orban, he may well enjoy some success.

This game will certainly have huge ramifications on the standings in the Bundesliga no matter what happens. RB Leipzig are being labelled as favourites and rightly so when you consider the consistent form they have delivered with Tedesco at the reins. That being said, Leipzig shouldn’t and won’t take Hoffenheim lightly.

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