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Jan 8, 2022 at 2.30pm UK
RB LeipzigRB Leipzig
Mainz 05Mainz 05
Silva (21' pen., 61'), Szoboszlai (47'), Nkunku (58')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Jae-sung (57')
Jae-sung (16'), Bell (59')
Hack (19')

Preview: RB Leipzig vs. Mainz 05 - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: RB Leipzig vs. Mainz 05 - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Saturday's Bundesliga clash between RB Leipzig and Mainz 05, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

RB Leipzig return from the Bundesliga winter break looking for a far better second half of the season, starting with a clash against Mainz 05 at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday.

The two sides are separated by one place and just two points in the table, but whilst that is a sign of a successful campaign for the visitors so far, it has been a hugely disappointing one for the hosts at this stage.

Match preview

Leipzig boss Domenico Tedesco was given plenty of time to reflect on his side's 2-0 defeat at home to 10-man Arminia Bielefeld last time out, with the loss arriving prior to Germany's winter break three weeks ago.

The setback was the first suffered under the former Spartak Moscow manager, after he had initially overseen a 4-1 triumph over Borussia Monchengladbach and a 1-1 draw at Augsburg in his previous two games in charge.

In what has been a difficult opening to the Bundesliga campaign to this point, with Die Roten Bullen finding themselves in 10th place at this stage as a result, their record at the Red Bull Arena had been largely impressive prior to the defeat to Bielefeld.

Six wins and two defeats from their opening eight home league games, compared with no wins from eight away matches, meant Leipzig had little trouble seeing off opponents on home soil, but defeat to relegation-threatened Bielefeld was damaging.

As mentioned above, Tedesco has had plenty of time over the last few weeks to analyse that match and prepare his players for his methods for the months ahead though, in order to lift last season's runners up back towards the European places.

The inconsistencies of many other clubs in and around Leipzig do mean they are not too far from their goal, however, with just seven points between themselves and Freiburg in third place, and with a win on Saturday potentially pulling them to within just two points of the first European spot.

Meanwhile, Bo Svensson's Mainz side begin 2022 in ninth place, one spot and two points above Saturday's opponents as previously mentioned.

Unlike their hosts, however, a mid-table position at this stage is an outstanding achievement for a side usually fighting it out at the wrong end of the table.

In fact, just 12 months ago Die Nullfunfer appeared destined for the drop out of the top flight, but following a record-breaking escape under their Danish boss, they have kicked on at the beginning of the 2021-22 season and face an unlikely fight for the European places themselves.

With just two wins from their final seven fixtures of 2021, however, Svensson will be keen for his side to begin the new year brightly to ensure they are not dragged into yet another relegation battle.

Included within that drop in form prior to the break are defeats in each of their last three matches on the road, including a narrow 1-0 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt last time out, so away form will be another slight concern that the manager will be hopeful of correcting on Saturday.

After previously enduring a torrid five-game spell against Leipzig in which Mainz were defeated four times and conceded 23 goals in the process, they have since won the last two meetings, so will be confident of picking up a positive result against their opponents on their return to action at the weekend.

RB Leipzig Bundesliga form:
  • L
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • L

RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L

Mainz 05 Bundesliga form:
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L

Team News

Leipzig will be sweating over the fitness of this season's star man Christopher Nkunku in the build up to their clash with Mainz on Saturday, with the Frenchman only returning to training on Thursday.

With seven goals and five assists in his 17 Bundesliga appearances so far, Nkunku has been one of the few bright sparks in their disappointing opening to the campaign.

Andre Silva also returned to the training in the week, with the duo both receiving negative COVID-19 test results following recent cases.

Amadou Haidara and Ilaix Moriba are on international duty, whilst Emil Forsberg, Marcel Halstenberg, Benjamin Henrichs, Dani Olmo, Konrad Laimer and Mohamed Simakan are all expected to miss out through injury.

As for the visitors, they look set to be without two vital components of their three-man backline, with captain Moussa Niakhate and Jeremiah St Juste expected to be unavailable.

Twenty-year-old David Nemeth should deputise in central defence, alongside the reliable Stefan Bell and Alexander Hack.

Dominik Kohr and Adam Szalai are ruled out, with the duo remaining sidelined until the end of January due to respective injuries.

RB Leipzig possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Mukiele, Orban, Gvardiol; Klostermann, Adams, Kampl, Angelino; Szoboszlai; Nkunku, Silva

Mainz 05 possible starting lineup:
Zentner; Nemeth, Bell, Hack; Widmer, Barreiro, Stach, Lee, Martin; Onisiwo, Burkardt

We say: RB Leipzig 2-1 Mainz 05

Mainz have been extremely impressive this season and have proved to be a difficult opponent for whoever they have faced, so this will be no different on Saturday.

However, with Leipzig having home advantage, as well as the visitors having two key defenders missing, we are predicting a narrow home win in this one.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data

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Bundesliga Table
1Bayern MunichBayern18141357183943
2Borussia DortmundDortmund19131549292040
5Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen1885542301229
6FC Koln187743028228
7Union BerlinUnion Berlin187742523228
8Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt187652927227
9RB Leipzig1874734231125
10Mainz 05187382621524
11VfL BochumVfL Bochum187291726-923
12Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach186482433-922
13Hertha Berlin186392138-1721
17Arminia Bielefeld183871624-817
18Greuther Furth1813141349-366
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