A European qualification six-pointer comes to the Red Bull Arena on Wednesday as high-flying Hertha Berlin, chasing the Europa League qualifying spot, visit RB Leipzig, who teeter on the borderline of Champions League contention.
Leipzig’s return to football since the coronavirus-forced hiatus has been far from what they had hoped for a team who were challenging both Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund for the top spot. Having been just five points from the top of the Bundesliga, Leipzig dropped points in a 1-1 home draw with fellow Europe-chasers SC Freiburg. However, Die Rotten Bullen found their stride again on the road in Mainz last week, when they battered the hosts by five goals in an unrelenting rout that saw them take a 5-0 victory.
Their visitors from the capital, Hertha, make the short trip on the back of a glittering resumption to the league under the guidance of new manager Bruno Labbadia. Having gone unbeaten in their last six away fixtures, they will be hoping to continue that run and build on the challenge for the Europa League places.
Hertha have won two matches out of two under Labbadia, keeping a clean sheet on both occasions. Die Alte Dame were looking like potential candidates for relegation with Jurgen Klinsmann at the helm, but Labbadia’s successful takeover has seen them rocket from the lingering drop to within five points of the Europa League.
Willi Orban returned from a lengthy injury on Saturday after six months out. He is not expected to make it back into the starting ranks for Leipzig. Welsh defender Ethan Ampadu is a doubt as the 19-year-old continues to recover from an injury picked up in February. Clinical Swede Emil Forsberg’s fitness is also in question.
Timo Werner is expected to start as usual having netted a hattrick against FSV Mainz 05. Now sitting on 24 goals for the campaign, the German striker is just three behind Robert Lewandowski in the race for the league top-scorer prize, the Torjagerkanone.
Hertha are without the services of Santiago Ascacibar and Karim Rekik, while Salomon Kalou could return after his club-given ban for flouting lockdown rules.
RB Leipzig: Gulacsi; Upamecano, Klostermann, Halstenberg; Laimer; Sabitzer, Nkunku, Kampl, Olmo; Poulsen, Werner. (3-1-4-2)
Hertha Berlin: Jarstein; Pekarik, Boyata, Torunarigha, Plattenhardt; Lukebakio, Grujic, Skjelbred, Darida; Cunha; Ibisevic. (4-4-1-1)