Germany’s new-boys Leipzig eye history in Leverkusen


Berlin (AFP) – RB Leipzig can claim a milestone in their fledgling history on Friday by taking a point at Bayer Leverkusen to knock Bayern Munich from the top of the Bundesliga table.

“We definitely want to take something there and remain unbeaten. If there is a point available, then there will also be three,” said Leipzig’s coach Ralph Hasenhuettl ahead of the clash at Leverkusen’s BayArena.

Second-placed Leipzig, backed by Austrian drinks giants Red Bull, can become the first club to go 11 games unbeaten at the start of their first German league season if they avoid defeat.

Ahead of the weekend’s matches, both Bayern and Leipzig, who have earned four promotions in seven years, have 24 league points.

A draw or win would see Leipzig top the table, at least overnight, ahead of Bayern, who are at Borussia Dortmund on Saturday evening in the battle of Germany’s top clubs — dubbed ‘Der Klassiker’.

But Hassenhuettl says usurping Bayern — who Leipzig face in Munich on December 20 in a pre-Christmas showdown — is not the priority.

“If we take points, the table will look like that,” said the Austrian.

“But that’s not a subject for us, it’s neither the team’s motivation, nor something we will let put us under pressure.

“We have other things to worry about, namely a tough away match.”

Leipzig have question marks over top-scorer Timo Werner (upset stomach), who has five goals in ten league games, and teenage Scotland winger Oliver Burke (virus). 

“It will be close for Oliver, Timo will most probably be okay,” said Hasenhuettl.

Following their 1-0 win at Tottenham Hotspur a fortnight ago, Leverkusen are on course for the last 16 in Europe.

Bayer, who are eighth in the table, need a win to warm-up for Tuesday’s Champions League group stage match at CSKA Moscow, but their coach Roger Schmidt says Leipzig have proved they deserve respect.

“Leipzig, with their financial possibilities and professional structure, are not your average newly-promoted team,” said Schmidt, whose team won their three games before the international break.

“We want to climb the table, but we have our own goals.

“Before the international break, we made a very good impression, which we want to resume on Friday.” 

Leverkusen hope to have midfield hard-man Charles Aranguiz, but the Chile international picked up an injury in a World Cup qualifier against Uruguay.

Captain Lars Bender, also a candidate for the defensive midfield, has not trained for two weeks with a heel injury.

Kevin Kampl (bruised foot), Omer Toprak (thigh), Joel Pohjanpalo (foot fracture) and Vladlen Yurchenko (hairline shin fracture) are all out.

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