RB Leipzig vs Schalke 04 Prediction, Preview, Lineups & Betting Tips
RB Leipzig takes on runner-ups Schalke 04 when the regular Saturday Bundesliga round returns after a short winter break. Both sides are in top half of the table and if we already mentioned “The Royal Blues” are second, “The Red Bulls” from Leipzig share the same number of 28 points with three other clubs, placing them fifth due to the worse goal difference compared with Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen. Of course, these stats are before round 18 to begin on Friday night so it’s possible to have some changes when RB Leipzig and Schalke 04 will meet on Saturday evening, 13 January 2018.
RB Leipzig and Schalke 04 have already met at the “Veltins-Arena” back in opening round of the 2017-18 Bundesliga season, when hosts from Gelsenkirchen won 2-0 after a successfully executed first-half penalty by Nabil Bentaleb, followed by a second-half goal of Yevhen Konoplyanka.
Update: Bayern Munich’s 3-1 win in Leverkusen keeps Schalke 04 on the second place and the Gelsenkirchen outfit can increase their lead over the other Champions League contenders with a positive score in Leipzig. At least until Sunday’s clash facing Borussia Dortmund and Wolfsburg, however a win in Leipzig will guarantee the second position of Schalke for the next few days.
Bundesliga: RB Leipzig vs Schalke 04 13.01.2018
RB Leipzig begins the new 2018 exactly where they have ended the past year – at home. However, Ralph Hasenhüttl’s men will be keen to avoid same outcome as in their last game for 2017 when they have lost 2-3 to Hertha BSC, playing with one man more almost all-game long. This has left RB Leipzig out of top 4 in the holidays and “The Red Bulls” are surely tempted to return into top four where they were at the end of season 2016-17, as well as to earn another UEFA Champions League promotion.
Schalke 04 have ended their 2017 Bundesliga schedule with a draw in Frankfurt, which was a very acceptable outcome since they were losing 0-2 until the 82nd minute. Only couple of days later “The Royal Blues” had a DFB-Pokal (German Cup) home game vs Köln in the Round of 16, which Domenico Tedesco’s men have won with an only goal by Max Meyer. Thus Schalke have reached the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals, being second in the Bundesliga standings in the meantime. That’s a wonderful improvement compared to the 10th Bundesliga position last season when Schalke won 43 points in 34 games, while they already collect 30 points after 17 rounds in the ongoing campaign.
Odds on Schalke 04 have dropped a bit but you can still place a bet with the Asian Handicap +0.5 backing the “Royal Blues” on value between 1.75-1.81 (3/4-81/100) in some of the leading online bookmakers, including BetVictor.
Team News and Missing Players
RB Leipzig have failed to win any of the last five matches and that’s pretty much related with Emil Forsberg’s injury. Swedish winger is admittedly one of the best players in Leipzig but has picked up an injury after the 0-4 loss to Hoffenheim, which was first of the five unsuccessful games for “The Red Bulls”. Forsberg has not recovered yet and he will miss the home match vs Schalke, whose absence is obviously a massive blow for the home side. Either Bruma or Kevin Kampl are among the potential replacements of the Swede.
Except injured left winger, Ralph Hasenhüttl can’t rely on his regular defender Marcel Halstenberg, who still recovers from a fractured hand, so Bernardo is likely to deputize at the left-back.
Jean-Kevin Augustin can be the first option up front, if Yussuf Poulsen or Timo Werner fail to recover from knocks in time. Nonetheless, expectations are they both should be fit to lead RB Leipzig’s attack on Saturday.
Last but not least, Liverpool have reportedly been given encouragement they can sign Naby Keita this month – provided they pay RB Leipzig a premium of at least £13 million. Considering Keita’s willingness to join his new club as soon as possible, this looks very likely so his presence here is pretty questionable, even if he makes it to the starting squad. His mind is at “Anfield” already.
Matchday Update: Information from within Leipzig from yesterday evening, 12 January, suggests that Naby Keita will become a Liverpool player on Sunday. So the Guinean midfielder will eventually play his last game for “The Red Bulls” on Saturday evening.
Schalke 04 have shown activity during the winter transfer market as they have bought young German striker Cedric Teuchert from 1. FC Nürnberg, as well as loaning young Croatian winger Marko Pjaca from Italian champion Juventus. Latter can even make it into the starting lineup against RB Leipzig, as he can start in midfield as a replacement of Leon Goretzka, who still recovers from an injury. Goretzka is one of the main targets of several European major clubs right now but Schalke have already proven they can win games with or without him, more or less. In fact, Domenico Tedesco must build his future formation without Goretzka whose contract expires at the end of the season, so it’s already certain he won’t remain in Gelsenkirchen. One of the potential directions is Bayern Munich while other rumours are linking him to a Premier League move.
Despite Goretzka’s injury, Spanish defender Pablo Insua is the other absentee in Schalke but he is not a first-team player anyway, at least not in current 3-1-4-2 used by Tedesco.
RB Leipzig vs Schalke 04 Prediction and Betting Tips
RB Leipzig and Schalke 04 both have some notable absences but we believe “The Royal Blues” are those who have more adequate replacements, to Goretzka in particular. The French-born Moroccan midfielder Amine Harit hints for a huge potential and he is surely a key-player in Schalke’s formation. With the presence of players like Daniel Caligiuri, Max Meyer, Bastian Oczipka and eventually Pjaca in the midfield line, we think it’s very likely Schalke to win the midfield battle, which would be a significant step to earn something from the visit to Leipzig. RB Leipzig’s attacking potential is seriously weakened without Forsberg.
We believe Schalke 04 won’t lose their visit against last season’s surprise and we recommend picking the Asian Handicap +0.5 (or Double Chance – X2) on Schalke. We’d rather placing our bet with the Asian Handicap line for a greater value.
Possible Lineups of RB Leipzig and Schalke 04
Venue: “Red Bull Arena”, Leipzig.
Referee: Deniz Aytekin.
RB Leipzig: Peter Gulacsi – Lukas Klostermann, Dayot Upamecano, Willi Orban, Bernardo – Stefan Ilsanker, Naby Keïta – Marcel Sabitzer, Kevin Kampl – Yussuf Poulsen, Timo Werner. (4-2-2-2)
Schalke 04: Ralf Fährmann – Benjamin Stambouli, Naldo, Matija Nastasic – Max Meyer – Daniel Caligiuri, Amine Harit, Marko Pjaca, Bastian Oczipka – Franco Di Santo, Guido Burgstaller. (3-1-4-2)