Leipzig: After four Bundesliga games without a win, the pressure was increasing on Julian Nagelsmann. However, wins over Mainz, Hertha, Zenit and Wolfsburg have turned things around. 20 goals in those four games have given the front line renewed confidence, and the team second place in the table. Nagelsmann’s side sit four points behind Borussia Mönchengladbach at the top of the table and will hope to close that gap between now and the Winter Break.
1. FC Köln: Markus Gisdol is the new man in town and is hoping to turn things around at FC. The former HSV and Hoffenheim boss takes charge with 1. FC Köln in 17th place, with seven points from 11 Bundesliga games. The change occurred after four straight defeats up until the international break, including the DFB-Pokal loss to 1. FC Saarbrücken. Gisdol, along with new sporting managing director, Horst Heldt are keen to restore confidence as soon as possible.
Julian Nagelsmann: “Köln's new head coach Markus Gisdol has a clear philosophy. Like us, they press their opposition hard and try to get in behind the defence with pace. We need to react quickly to the second ball and control the space between the back line and the goalkeeper. We have worked hard to make sure we win the game and take all three points.”
Markus Gisdol: “We have an opponent ahead of us, who were in superb form up until the international break. We have a lot of respect for them. But every team have their strengths and weaknesses. In Leipzig, we have a chance when we take onto the pitch what we want to do. Leipzig are an opponent with huge quality. We must find the right mix for the game.”
Leipzig: Ibrahima Konaté and Nordi Mukiele will both be absent from the Leipzig defence at the weekend, with the game coming too soon for both. Marcel Halstenberg is fit once more, with Patrik Schick also set to be part of the squad after his ankle injury. Yussuf Poulsen has back problems, but will be fit for the match.
1. FC Köln: Marco Höger and Sebastiaan Bornauw made welcome returns to training at the start of the new week. They were then joined by Anthony Modeste, Kingsley Schindler and Florian Kainz as the week went on, with all internationals also returning fit and healthy. The only injury concern to arise this week – aside from the known absences of Jorge Meré, Noah Katterbach and Christian Clemens – is that of Vincent Koziello, who picked up an ankle injury on Wednesday.
With 20 goals in the last four games, it will come as no surprise that Timo Werner was heavily involved in quite a few of those. Seven goals and six assists means that Werner was directly involved in 70% of Leipzig’s goals in the last four matches. The 23-year-old is behind only Robert Lewandowski in the goalscoring charts with 11 goals this campaign. Werner is well set to beat his totals of 16 and 13 from the previous two seasons.
Referee: Robert Schröder (Hannover).
Linesmen: Christian Bandurski, Mark Borsch.
Fourth official: Christof Günsch.
Video assistant referee: Harm Osmers.