Hoffenheim's Zuber braced for Leipzig showdown

By Sacha Pisani 28 January 2017 332
Hoffenheim's Zuber braced for Leipzig showdown

The objective is clear for Steven Zuber and Hoffenheim, with the Bundesliga high-flyers heading to RB Leipzig to win and preserve their undefeated record.

In a battle of second against fourth on Saturday, Leipzig host Hoffenheim, who are the only unbeaten team remaining in the top five European leagues.

Under the guidance of prodigy and 29-year-old head coach Julian Nagelsmann, Hoffenheim have won seven and drawn 10 of their opening 17 matches to be fourth in the table, though they could reclaim third position from Eintracht Frankfurt with victory at Red Bull Arena Leipzig, where the hosts are undefeated this term.

Newly-promoted Leipzig have also defied expectations to be only three points adrift of reigning German champions Bayern Munich and eight clear of Hoffenheim.

There is plenty on the line with Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin within striking distance, and speaking exclusively to Omnisport, Zuber said: "We want to win every single match, it does not matter who is the opponent.

"If we are able to consolidate our record and position, we of course will be very happy about it. But primarily we go to Leipzig to take back home some points. 

"Every match is important. In fact Leipzig are a very good team and have little in common with a typical newly-promoted side. They are very good at home and good going forward. They press high and want to force their opponents into making mistakes."

If history is anything to go by, this weekend's pick of the Bundesliga fixtures is set to provide plenty of entertainment.

Hoffenheim opened their 2016-17 campaign against Leipzig, playing out a thrilling 2-2 draw in August.

That draw triggered a 13-match unbeaten run for Ralph Hasenhuttl's men, including 10 wins, as Leipzig spent three weeks at the summit, establishing the record for the best ever start by a promoted team in the process.

Hoffenheim remain unbeaten and Zuber is braced for another frantic encounter between the two sides, though the 25-year-old Swiss midfielder fancies his team's chances. 

"It's going to be an intense, hard-fought battle, that's for sure," added Zuber, who recently extended his contract to 2020.

"We of course want to remain unbeaten and in an ideal scenario go home with the three points. They have been doing this very, very well so far this season. 

"We've been very consistent though and we have to keep this up in Leipzig. They are also prone to making mistakes. We are well prepared and will up the intensity in training throughout the week."

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Sacha Pisani