Schalke welcome RB Leipzig to Gelsenkirchen in the Bundesliga on Saturday looking to boost their hopes of survival (2:30pm kick-off UK time).
The Royal Blues remain bottom of the Bundesliga after 19 games, nine points from safety, and host a second-placed Leipzig side that will still be harbouring title ambitions.
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Where to watch Schalke vs RB Leipzig on TV:
- UK: N/A
- US: ESPN+
Scoreline prediction: Schalke 1-3 RB Leipzig
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Schalke vs RB Leipzig build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Schalke have had a disastrous season so far, earning just eight points from their opening 19 games in the Bundesliga with more managers than wins. David Wagner started the campaign, but was replaced by Manuel Baum who, himself, was eventually let go. Huub Stevens came in for a brief interim role before Christian Gross took the task of trying to save Schalke’s Bundesliga status.
The Royal Blues’ sole Bundesliga victory this season has come under Gross, beating Hoffenheim 4-0 at the start of January but since then they have reverted to their poor form. Schalke have lost four of their past five games across all competitions, only managing a 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen during that run. They were also knocked out of the DFB-Pokal in midweek by Wolfsburg, though it needed a Wout Weghorst penalty to put them down.
While Schalke are rooted to the bottom of the table, Leipzig will still have their eyes on a possible Bundesliga title, though it is further away than they would have liked. Since leading the Bundesliga table after five games, Leipzig have truly struggled to put together a considerable unbeaten run, hurting their title chances.
Leipzig go into this game with three wins in their past six Bundesliga matches, and beat Bayer Leverkusen in the league last season, but that was preceded by a 3-2 defeat to relegation-battling Mainz and it wasn’t too long ago that they were losing to Borussia Dortmund. Julian Nagelsmann’s side, however, did cruise through their DFB-Pokal game against VfL Bochum in midweek, winning 4-0 at home to reach the quarter-finals.
- Schalke (vs Wolfsburg): Fahrmann; Becker, Thiaw, Nastasic, Kolasinac; Stambouli, Mascarell; William, Uth, Harit; Hoppe.
- RB Leipzig (vs VfL Bochum): Gulacsi; Halstenberg, Orban, Klostermann; Sabitzer; Adams, Samardzic, Haidara, Angelino; Nkunku, Poulsen.
The list of absentees for Schalke remains a long one, with Kilian Ludewig, Goncalo Paciencia, Salif Sane and Steven Skrzybski all out, while Can Bozdogan, Suat Serdar and Frederick Ronnow are doubts. Shkodran Mustafi’s availability is unclear, with the club set to make a last-minute decision as he is currently training away from the squad.
Leipzig are without Emil Forsberg, Ibrahima Konate, Konrad Laimer and Dominik Szoboszlai.
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Players to watch:
- Schalke: Matthew Hoppe is probably bored of the jokes but he really is Schalke’s biggest hope of achieving Bundesliga safety this season. The American international made his first-team debut at the end of November, starting in a 4-1 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach and, has since added a further eight league appearances. Hoppe was at the heart of Schalke’s only league win of the season so far, scoring a hat-trick in the 4-0 victory over Hoffenheim, and he followed that up with goals against Eintracht Frankfurt and Koln. Hoppe hasn’t scored in the past two league games, but he continues to impress and if he can start to find the net regularly across the rest of the campaign, starting against Leipzig, then Schalke may have a chance.
- RB Leipzig: Nagelmann’s side have been underwhelming in attack this season, lacking an outright goalscorer, but Christopher Nkunku is threatening to dust off the cobwebs. The Frenchman has only scored three times this season, but his campaign was hampered by an injury that came at the wrong time. Having scored in consecutive games against Armenia Bielefeld and Bayern Munich, Nkunku suffered an ankle injury that ruled him out for five games, shutting down any momentum that had been beginning to grow. Upon his return in mid-January, it took some time for Nkunku to get up and running again but he scored the only goal of the game against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, and will be looking to make it two in two for the second time this season.
Bundesliga 2020/21 recent form:
- Schalke: DLLLW
- RB Leipzig: WLWDL
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