VFL Bochum have a new coach taking charge of his first game, while RB Leipzig have a new coach taking charge of his third game as the two sides go head-to-head at the Red Bull Arena. Both sides are desperate for the points having made poor starts to season- Leipzig want to push towards the top, while Bochum want to move away from the bottom.
The honeymoon period of Marco Rose’s appointment and the subsequent 3-0 win over Borussia Dortmund was short lived with two subsequent defeats to Real Madrid and Borussia Mönchengladbach. Granted, the defeat at the Bernabeu came with a large helping sympathy following a sterling performance, but there were worrying signs at the Borussia Park last time out that Rose’s arrival to replacer Domenico Tedesco isn’t going to be an instant fix.
But a fix is needed as the RB machine is not functioning this season as effectively as the individual parts would suggest it should. Die Rote Bullen sit 12th in the table with eight points- their worst start to a Bundesliga season since their arrival.
Last season’s Hinrunde under Jesse Marsch was poor and saw Leipzig finish 10th at the halfway stage but things this year are looking slightly worse thus far. They have a lower goals per game average, are creating fewer chances and conversely conceding more chances.
A morale-boosting win over bottom side Bochum would be a good start to get their recovery going.
Talking of morale-boosting, the point gained against Köln on matchday 7 will have done the self-belief at Bochum the world of good and stopped them earning the unwanted accolade of making the worst-ever start to a Bundesliga season. Yes, it was only one solitary point, but before that they still had zero on their account.
It will be a massive ask for new coach Thomas Letsch to get an instant reaction (and win) from his new charges, but strange things often happen when a new trainer takes the helm. Letsch and Marco Rose know each other well from their time together at RB Salzburg, but on Saturday all friendship goes out of the window with three vital Bundesliga points on offer.
All of Leipzig’s international players have returned unscathed although Yussuf Poulsen will be unavailable this weekend through illness. Dani Olmo is still a number of weeks away from fitness following his knee ligament injury, while Konrad Laimer is likely to be out until December with his ankle injury. Defender Lukas Klostermann remains unavailable with a knee problem.
Compared to the Gladbach defeat, there could be returns to the starting XI for Timo Werner, Xaver Schlager, Mohamed Simakan and Abdou Diallo.
Possible line-up: Gulacsi, Simakan, Orban, Diallo, Raum, Kampl, Schlager, Szoboszlai, Forsberg, Werner, Nkunku
Like his predecessor Thomas Reis, new coach Thomas Letsch has defensive absentees to worry about. Takuma Asano, Konstantinos Stafylidis and Dominique Heintz all remain on the sidelines. The exact formation and personnel the new coach opts for is unknown, but matchday 7 debutant Tim Oermann could keep his place.
Transfer window signing Lys Mousset could be an option from the bench after his summer arrival
Possible line-up: Riemann, Gamboa, Ordets, Oermann, Soares, Losilla, Osterhage, Stöger, Zoller, Holtmann, Hofmann
What they’re saying:
Marco Rose: “Bochum will try to score on the counterattack, which means that we have to be secure when we’re going forward. They have some good players in their squad; we have to be prepared and resilient.
“For example, Kevin Stöger is a fantastic footballer who can read the game well and bring it to life. In addition to that, he can hit the ball well and recognises spaces.
“It’s a home game and that means we want to win; to do that, we need a good performance, because we have ambitions and want to reach a good level.”
Thomas Letsch: “I look back on the first few days very positively. From the start the team was very, very open to new ideas and very willing on the pitch. Every session was great fun. That is the basic requirement for things to go well on the match day. I don’t only have eleven options, but significantly more. That’s nice for us as a coaching team.
“In terms of squad, RB Leipzig is the second-best team in the Bundesliga after FC Bayern Munich. We know what to expect. Leipzig is a team with very, very high quality. Ultimately, however, we have to focus on ourselves and make up for the supposed individual deficit with unity as a team.
“I spoke to Marco Rose on the phone for a while on Tuesday. But we hardly talked about the game because nobody would say anything about it anyway. I’m happy to see him on Saturday and I hope my mood after the game will be better than his.”
17.09.22 Borussia Mönchengladbach (a) 3-0 L (Bundesliga)
14.09.22 Real Madrid (a) 2-0 L (Champions League)
10.09.22 Borussia Dortmund (h) 3-0 W (Bundesliga)
06.09.22 Shakhtar Donetsk (h) 1-4 L (Champions League)
03.09.22 Eintracht Frankfurt (a) 4-0 L (Bundesliga)
18.09.22 Köln (h) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
10.09.22 Schalke (a) 3-1 L (Bundesliga)
03.09.22 Werder Bremen (h) 0-2 L (Bundesliga)
26.08.22 Freiburg (a) 1-0 L (Bundesliga)
21.08.22 Bayern Munich (h) 0-7 L (Bundesliga)
Last season’s clash at the Red Bull Arena came at a similar time of the year (matchday 7) and saw the home side win 3-0. It took a while however for the goals with second half substitutes Dominik Szoboszlai and Andre Silva making an instant impact from the bench. The duo combined a minute after coming on to allow the Portuguese striker to head in the opener from a corner.
Two further goals from Christopher Nkunku put the gloss on a 3-0 win.
Players to watch:
The scrutiny that Timo Werner is coming under in the build-up to the World Cup is becoming more intense as the debate as to Germany’s best attacking options heats up. The best way Werner can respond to his critics is to start scoring in the Bundesliga, making his inclusion in Hansi Flick’s Nationalmannschaft less of a talking point.
Despite their struggles this season in many of the games Bochum have actually played well and matched their opponents for large periods of the game. A stand-out performer has been midfielder Kevin Stöger, who is a league leader on a number of important metrics (shot creating actions, pressures in the midfield third).
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