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Preview: FC Koln vs. RB Leipzig - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: FC Koln vs. RB Leipzig - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Monday's Bundesliga clash between FC Koln and RB Leipzig, including team news and predicted lineups.

RB Leipzig will be looking to keep their slim Bundesliga title hopes alive when they make the trip to FC Koln on Monday evening.

The Red Bulls were held by Hertha Berlin in midweek and head into the weekend matches nine points off top spot, while Koln are also aiming to respond to a bad result last time out.

Match preview

Too many draws have ultimately cost Leipzig any chance of challenging Bayern Munich for the title as we head into the final stretch of the campaign.

Julian Nagelsmann's men played out a 2-2 draw with Hertha on Wednesday - their fourth draw in five matches either side of the two-month coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

The nine-point gap on top spot is surely now too big to bridge, but Leipzig still have plenty to play for over their remaining six matches.

Finishing second will be the target for Nagelsmann, though securing a place in the top four to qualify for next season's Champions League will be the immediate priority.

Bayer Leverkusen's 1-0 win over Freiburg on Friday pushed Leipzig down to fourth, two points above Borussia Monchengladbach in what has been a thrilling top-four battle.

The visitors' fate is still in their own hands, but a repeat of the performance against Hertha and they will likely end the gameweek outside the Champions League spots.

Timo Werner scored a hat-trick in last week's 5-0 thrashing of Mainz 05, but three days on from that impressive display Leipzig failed to turn up against Hertha and paid the penalty - quite literally.

The Red Bulls are on a nine-game unbeaten run in the Bundesliga and into the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time, but Nagelsmann will surely be concerned about the high number of draws in the second half of the campaign.

That is something they can put right on Monday against an out-of-form Koln side that are without a win in four matches - each of those behind closed doors - which is their longest-such run under Markus Gisdol.

The Billy Goats have slipped down to 11th after collecting two points from the last 12 on offer, but they certainly know where the net is, having scored at least once in each of their last 14 Bundesliga matches.

Koln do not tend to fare well in this fixture, however, with their loss percentage against Leipzig (60%) higher than against any other Bundesliga side they have faced at least twice.

Indeed, Leipzig have lost none of their 14 top-flight matches against promoted sides, a run that includes a 4-1 win on home soil in the reverse fixture with Koln six months ago.

FC Koln's Bundesliga form: WWLDDL

RB Leipzig's Bundesliga form: WDDDWD
RB Leipzig's form (all competitions): DDWDWD

Team News

Leipzig, who have eight goals in their last three matches, lost captain Yussuf Poulsen to an ankle injury last week so Patrick Schick was used against Hertha.

Schick scored a fortunate goal and will likely retain his place alongside Werner, but changes will be required elsewhere.

Marcel Halstenberg is suspended for this game, while Ibrahima Konate remains injured, meaning that Nagelsmann may consider tweaking to a back four.

As for Koln, they will be without Sebastiaan Bornauw after the defender was dismissed in the 3-1 loss to Hoffenheim last time out.

Jorge Mere is the favourite to come into the backline, where he will be joined by one of Noah Katterbach or Benno Schmitz at left-back.

Further up the field, Jhon Cordoba looks certain to lead the Billy Goats' line following a good run of form in front of goal.

FC Koln possible starting lineup:
Horn; Ehizibue, Mere, Leistner, Schmitz; Skhiri, Hector; Kainz, Uth, Jakobs; Cordoba

RB Leipzig possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Mukiele, Klostermann, Upamecano, Angelino; Sabitzer, Laimer; Nkunku, Olmo, Werner; Schick

We say: FC Koln 1-2 RB Leipzig

Koln can be happy with their first season back in the Bundesliga, but they have gone off the boil and do not have the best of records against Leipzig. Nagelsmann's men need to start turning draws into wins and we expect that to happen on Monday, with this becoming the first German top-flight fixture to be staged in the month of June for 25 years.

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CBayern MunichBayern342644100326882
2Borussia DortmundDortmund34216784414369
3RB Leipzig341812481374466
4Borussia MonchengladbachBorussia M'bach34205966402665
5Bayer LeverkusenB. Leverkusen35197962451764
9Eintracht FrankfurtFrankfurt34136155960-145
10Hertha Berlin34118154859-1141
11Union BerlinUnion Berlin34125174158-1741
12Schalke 04Schalke35913133959-2040
14Mainz 0535114204466-2237
15FC Koln34106185169-1836
16Werder Bremen3487194269-2731
RFortuna DusseldorfDusseldorf34612163667-3130
RSC PaderbornSC Paderborn3448223774-3720
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