RB Leipzig have been training at home over the winter break, with a 2-0 win against Czech side Dukla Prague last weekend finishing their preparations for 2018. Ralph Hasenhuttl has the luxury of a fully fit squad ahead of hosting Schalke 04 in an important clash at the upper end of the table, with Timo Werner looking to feature after shaking off illness over the holiday period.
Schalke 04 have taken the league by storm after a disappointing 2016/17 campaign, powering their way up to 2nd place before the month-long pause in their football calendar. Coach Domenico Tedesco is raring to go, saying he “feels good about this team”, and why should he feel any differently? Only Leon Goretzka and Paulo Insua will miss their first Bundesliga game of the year, with new signing Marko Pjaca an option to start on his competitive debut.
While RB Leipzig earned a massive 24 more points than Schalke last season, it’s the contrasting current form between the visitors and the hosts which draws our attention here. Leipzig ended 2017 on a low, with their first home defeat of the season against the struggling Hertha Berlin, while Schalke ended the year on a high, unbeaten in 11 consecutive Bundesliga outings (W5 D6) – their longest run for 11 years – and with progression through to the quarter finals of the DFB Pokal (German Cup).
Schalke forward Guido Burgstaller is the man to watch for them, having found the back of the net four times over the Royal Blues’ last six Bundesliga outings – Leipzig’s Timo Werner has clocked just half that over the same number. Fresh off the back of the winter break, we’d expect the Austrian forward to be well worth a few quid as an anytime scorer bet here.
With Leipzig win-less in five competitive outings, backing Schalke double chance looks the smart bet. Despite a drop in form, the Red Bulls do still look dangerous in front of goal though, scoring 2 goals in 5 of their last 7 Bundesliga outings. Schalke are in equally good scoring form, with 10 goals over their last 5 outings on the road, so goals are to be expected. Schalke are proving a very stubborn team to beat, but have only held out for a single point in four of a their last five fixtures before the winter break (W1 D4) – albeit a difficult run of matches. A trip to Leipzig shouldn’t be much different, so we like the look of a high scoring draw. Our prediction: a 2-2 draw.
Free Football betting tips every day for your chance to win big!