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Bundesliga: Red Bull Ready for First Test of New Year

RB Leipzig vs Union Berlin

RB Leipzig had the distinction of being the Bundesliga‘s winter champions this season, going into the break two points clear of second-placed Borussia Monchengladbach and four points clear of defending champions Bayern Munich.

But Leipzig have the much loftier goal of winning the actual title, which would be the first in their relatively short history. And in order to do so, they must beat teams in the bottom half of the table at home.

The Red Bulls will begin the second half of the season against one such team in Union Berlin. The newly promoted side went into the break in poor form and will be desperate to get back on track.

The odds are decidedly in the leaders’ favour, though, and Union will be lucky to leave Leipzig with a positive result.

 

Talking Points

Leipzig can’t stop scoring

The winter break likely came at the wrong time for Leipzig, who were on a remarkable run in the league. They had won seven of their last eight Bundesliga matches. The only game they didn’t win was their amazing 3-3 draw at Borussia Dortmund, where they came back twice to earn a well-deserved point.

During that terrific run, Leipzig scored three goals or more in all eight matches. Timo Werner, the team’s leading scorer with 18 league goals, has been a major part of their prolific attack. The German has scored six goals in his last five Bundesliga appearances and is bound to create more Bundesliga 2020 highlights.

His scoring streak came to an end in their most recent game against Augsburg, but he still supplied an assist as the Red Bulls ran out 3-1 winners.

Patrik Schick, who started up front alongside Werner in that game, has come on strong of late. He’s scored in four of his last five Bundesliga appearances. His emergence has added yet another weapon to manager Julian Nagelsmann’s arsenal of attackers, which includes Werner, Yussuf Poulsen, Marcel Sabitzer, Emil Forsberg, and Christopher Nkunku.

RB Leipzig are unbeaten in their 13 Bundesliga games against newly-promoted teams with 11 wins and 2 draws
Julian Nagelsmann calls out his players in the touchline

Despite missing out on Erling Braut Haaland, who went to Dortmund, Leipzig clearly aren’t lacking in attacking talent.

Leipzig’s home record this season has not been amazing. But after a rough three-game stretch which saw draws against Bayern and Wolfsburg and a loss to Schalke, they have dominated their inferior opposition by a whopping score of 18-3.

Union under the cosh

Union Berlin are having a perfectly fine first-ever season in the Bundesliga all things considered. They are currently in 11th place, one point ahead of city rivals Hertha. Perhaps more importantly, they are five points clear of the relegation zone.

However, they did not go into the winter break in the best of form. They won just one of their last five matches and suffered back-to-back defeats to Hoffenheim and a relegation-threatened Fortuna Dusseldorf side that had failed to win in its last six games.

Scoring goals has been a struggle for Union. They have just 20 thus far, which is tied for the fourth-fewest in the league. Sebastian Andersson is having a fine season with eight goals, but there hasn’t been enough production from other members of the team.

And unsurprisingly, they’ve also found it difficult to pick up points away from home. They’ve won just one of their eight away matches thus far (two draws, five defeats) and have scored only eight goals.

But to Union’s credit, they have yet to be embarrassed in front of their home fans. They’ve only lost by more than one goal once all season, which came in a 2-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen.

 

History

Leipzig and Union have squared off just five times in total. Leipzig own three wins to Union’s one, with one draw.

Leipzig actually welcomed Union to the Bundesliga this season as they romped to a 4-0 away win. Sabitzer starred in that match as he had a hand in all four goals (one goal, three assists). Werner also got on the scoresheet, while Nkunku and Poulsen both hit the frame of the goal.

 

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