Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 5/4
RB Leipzig are set to welcome Borussia Dortmund to their Red Bull Arena on Saturday afternoon in what many would have expected only a short while ago to be an exciting clash, potentially vital in the title race. However, Bayern Munich have long since shown that their own pace in this race is still far beyond anything their would-be rivals are capable of, and a few days ago they made it a mathematical certainty that the prestigious trophy remains at the Allianz Arena for another year. The situation is now different.
The situation is certainly different when it comes to the top spot and the champions’ crown, but Leipzig still have a lot to play for. Truth be told, their own title hopes were dashed some time ago, and now they need to concentrate on getting over the line in terms of the Champions League qualification. With three matches to go, Leipzig are now third with 63 points, three less than Dortmund in second, two more than Bayer Leverkusen in fourth, and four more than Borussia Monchengladbach in fifth.
Striker Timo Werner will be leaving the club to join Chelsea when the season in the Bundesliga ends, reportedly unwilling to remain a part of the team for the Champions League fixtures set for August. If that proves true, these remaining games in the German top flight will be his last opportunity to contribute to the club that has given him so much.
Leipzig’s recent form has been decent enough, with three wins and three draws from their last six league games.
Head coach Julian Nagelsmann will be without the services of midfielder Hannes Wolf, as well as forwards Yussuf Poulsen and Fabrice Hartmann. Patrick Shick is therefore very likely to start alongside Werner upfront.
Dortmund appeared to have lost some of their drive after Bayern secured the title ahead of them, as they slumped to an unexpected 0-2 defeat at home at the hands of relegation-threatened Mainz 05, and it remains to be seen if they’ve been able to recover psychologically since then. As has been said, they are still in second place and their spot in next season’s Champions League isn’t in too much danger, but that could actually act as a deterrent in games such as this one. On the other hand, you never know when they might snap out of the stupor and bounce back fiercely.
Like Leipzig, Lucien Favre’s team have also been on relatively good form, winning four and losing two of their previous six league encounters.
For the Leipzig trip, Favre won’t be able to call upon captain Marco Reus, who has returned to training following a long injury lay-off but still isn’t ready to play. Defenders Dan-Axel Zagadou and Manuel Akanji, as well as midfielders Thomas Delaney and Mahmoud Dahoud, are all out through injury too, which leaves Favre with a tough choice on the role of Emre Can for this game.
Though it remains to be seen exactly how long Dortmund will take to regroup after losing the title race, it seems that at this point, they aren’t ready yet and Leipzig, who desperately need the points, will certainly look to deal them another hard blow.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 5/4
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