Bundesliga preview: Gladbach face RB Leipzig in bunched top seven | Bundesliga | DW | 01.02.2018
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Bundesliga preview: Gladbach face RB Leipzig in bunched top seven

Gladbach and RB Leipzig are two of six teams separated by just three points in a desperate battle for Champions League spots. The duo signed young British talent on deadline day and will hope this break the mould.

Seventh-placed Gladbach might look like they are an outside bet for the Champions League spots in the Bundesliga but closer inspection of the table shows the race will be extremely tight.

RB Leipzig, who visit the Foals in Saturday's late game, are just a point better off in fifth while second-placed Bayer Leverkusen have only two points more than Leipzig.

It makes the big match all the more intriguing, given a win for hosts Gladbach could catapult themselves into the top four despite their wildly inconsistent season so far.

Leipzig have similarly been in-form and then almost immediately out of form as the campaign has worn on, underlining the unpredictability of the league, except for Bayern Munich running away with it of course.

The two sides are also comparable in that they both signed young British players on Wednesday's deadline day, albeit Gladbach re-signed West Ham United's Reece Oxford on loan having borrowed him earlier in the season. Leipzig made a surprise move by taking Everton and England youth winger Ademola Lookman.

Burst of British youngsters

Even Everton boss Sam Allardyce was puzzled by the move.

"It is one of the most unusual situations I've been in where we have got some deals for him but he was adamant he chose Germany," Allardyce was quoted as saying by English paper the Daily Mail.

"It is his choice. Oliver Burke [a Scotland international who joined RB Leipzig but now plays for West Bromwich Albion] has been there and could not wait to get away.

"We tried to persuade Lookman not to because I think it is a big challenge for his development with not being able to speak the language. We wanted him to go out on loan to play first team football every week - there were better opportunities for that."

Allardyce does the Bundesliga a disservice and given Leipzig's track record of taking young players and turning them into Champions League regulars, it is easy to see why Lookman opted to work with Ralph Hasenhüttl.

Whether he or Oxford plays on Saturday remains to be seen given their lack of training time. Allardyce has a point that the seemingly inexplicable burst of British youngsters to have sampled the Bundesliga of late have mostly not worked out.

Freiburg's Ryan Kent and Leipzig's Burke went back to English football while Kaylen Hinds made no impact at Wolfsburg and has just joined second tier Greuther Fürth on loan. Oxford's Gladbach team mate and compatriot Mandela Egbo has mainly been in the reserves.

Jadon Sancho has been promising if nothing more since moving permanently from Manchester City to Borussia Dortmund, who are involved in the six-team dogfight for the Champions League which Gladbach and Leipzig need to pull clear of to be assured of top European soccer.

Elsewhere on Matchday 21

- Cologne vs. Dortmund: Cologne welcome former coach Peter Stöger's former side for a key game at both ends of the table. Dortmund, having sold top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, need to get back on track after drawing their last three games while bottom side Cologne are looking to produce a miracle escape after three wins and a draw in their last four matches.

- Mainz vs. Bayern Munich: The home side are precariously close to the drop zone with Bayern precariously close to the title. Javi Martinez and Mats Hummels are in contention to return after illness and injury but Arturo Vidal and Sandro Wagner are slight doubts.

- Schalke vs. Werder Bremen: The visitors are in the relegation playoff spot but are boosted by the deadline day arrivals of Sebastian Langkamp from Hertha Berlin and Kosovan attacking midfielder Milot Rashica from Vitesse Arnhem as they try to topple third-placed Schalke.   

Matchday 21 fixtures

Cologne vs. Borussia Dortmund (Friday, 8:30 p.m. CET)

Hertha Berlin vs. Hoffenheim (Saturday, 3:30 p.m.)

Freiburg vs. Bayer Leverkusen      

Schalke vs. Werder Bremen          

Mainz vs. Bayern Munich   

Wolfsburg vs. Stuttgart        

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. RB Leipzig (Saturday, 6:30 p.m.)      

Augsburg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt (Sunday, 3:30 p.m.)

Hamburg vs. Hannover (Sunday, 6:00 p.m.)

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