Germany Bundesliga - 17:30
In a weekend dominated by the FA cup back in England, both of our GOTD picks this week come from around Europe. The first of which takes us to the Red Bull Arena, as RB Leipzig host Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga’s Saturday evening fixture.
The hosts sit in 2nd place so far this season, with 31 points from their 14 games — just 5 points behind long-time Bundesliga dominators, Bayern Munich with a game in hand. Julian Nagelsmann’s side will be looking to build on their impressive 8-game unbeaten streak in the league, which has been equally split with 4 wins and 4 draws — including the thrilling 3–3 draw in Munich. The 1–0 defeat at Borussia Monchengladbach that preceded Leipzig’s current unbeaten run was their only defeat of the season, and they are yet to lose at home.
Dortmund’s considerably more disconcerting start — compared to seasons past when they and Munich have drifted from the rest of the pack — has them in 4th place, 6 points behind their hosts on 25 points. What was a relatively positive start (5 wins in their first 6) descended into crisis, as Julien Favre won 1 of his following 5 — losing 3. One of those 3 was a damning 5–1 defeat at home to Stuttgart: the final nail in the coffin for Favre, who was sacked the following day. His replacement, Edin Terzic, has 2 wins and 1 loss in his first 3 games, a sample size too small to draw any conclusive opinions.
Nagelsmann’s Leipzig side have been dominant at home this season, with 6 wins and 1 draw from their 7 home games this season. Fans or no fans — both of which Leipzig have experienced this season — the Red Bull Arena is their fortress, and it’s borderline impenetrable.
RBL are averaging 2.29 goals per 90 at home this season (from an xG/90 of 2.59) whilst conceding just 0.43 goals per 90 (from an xGA/90 of 0.87). They have only blanked once at home all season — in a 0–0 draw against FC Koln — and have only failed to score on two occasions both home and away. In their 6 home games barring their 0–0 draw, they have scored 2 or more goals in every one of them. However, of their 7 games at the Red Bull Arena, 5 of them have been against the bottom 5 in the Bundesliga, with only Freiburg (3–0 win) and Hertha Berlin (2–1 win) not fighting relegation, so take their prolific goalscoring with a serious pinch of salt in this case.
Against mid to top-table sides, Leipzig’s games take more of a conservative approach: keeping clean sheets against Hoffenheim, Stuttgart and Augsburg (13th, 11th and 10th respectively), whilst conceding producing 1–1 draws against Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern Leverkusen.
Dortmund’s away form has been far from catastrophic so far, with losses against Augsburg and Union Berlin book-ending a 5-game unbeaten run. Their gameweek 2 defeat to Augsburg was the only time they have failed to score on their travels, and they have also scored in every home game so far.
Whilst goals have come for Havre’s — now Terzic’s — side, their outstanding xG during away fixtures has left them thinking how many more they may have scored. A respectable average of 1.57 goals per game away from home is dwarfed by their per game xG of 2.28, suggesting a clinical finisher could propel them into a title challenge — Bayerns xG/90 is 2.25, and Leipzig’s is 1.93.
A clinical finisher is exactly what Dortmund have been without over the festive period. Top-scorer Erling Haland’s injury at the start of December meant he missed 4 of Dortmund’s games in the month of December, returning for the first time in their win against Wolfsburg last week. The Norwegian hit 10 goals in 8 games before his injury, from an xG of just 8.4. Should he be back to full fitness for tonight’s clash, he will be sure to convert Dortmund’s xG to outright G.
Medium Risk Tip — BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 1.57 [4/7]: With Leipzig scoring in all but 2 of their games this season, and Dortmund scoring in all but 1, both sides clearly have the attacking prowess to put the ball in the net. Leipzig’s home form is incredible, and they have managed to hit 2+ goals in every home game bar 1 this season. The return of Haaland will almost certainly turn Dortmund’s outstanding chance creation into goals.
Higher Risk Tip — DRAW AND BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE @ 4.33 [10/3]: Whilst Leipzig will undoubtedly be carrying huge momentum from their unbeaten home record, the opposition from these games does bring the validity of the run into question. They will be keen not to lose this game, simultaneously keeping within touching distance of Munich whilst keeping Dortmund at arm’s length. Dortmund themselves will be looking to build on a good win against Wolfsburg, with the return of Haaland proving a pivotal boost. I’m going spoils shared.
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