UEFA Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig and Dayot Upamecano kick off their second Bundesliga campaign under Julian Nagelsmann at home to Mainz on Sunday (kick-off: 3.30pm CEST/2.30pm BST/9.30am ET).
Freshly capped senior France international Upamecano helped form the Bundesliga’s second-tightest defence last term as Leipzig finished third before going all the way to the final four in Europe in Nagelsmann’s first season in charge. Die Roten Bullen have been strengthened at the back by the arrival of Benjamin Henrichs from Monaco and Angelino’s extended loan deal from Manchester City, while American Tyler Adams has also looked at home in a back three, with a Man of the Match performance in the 3-0 DFB Cup first-round win at Nürnberg. Up front, there’s the 28-goal hole left by the departure of Timo Werner to Chelsea, who had been Leipzig’s top scorer in all four of their Bundesliga campaigns to date. Summer signing Hee-Chan Hwang got a goal and an assist on his debut in the Cup and could get the nod ahead of Yussuf Poulsen up front. New club captain Marcel Sabitzer, who ended 2019/20 with nine goals and seven assists, is racing to overcome a thigh strain.
Mainz also got their campaign off to a winning start in the Cup, coming from behind with five second-half goals to beat fourth-tier Havelse 5-1 in the first round. Jean-Philippe Mateta, who missed half of last season with a knee injury, bagged a hat-trick. Coach Achim Beierlorzer, who was caretaker boss at Leipzig in 2015 and served as Ralf Rangnick’s assistant as they were promoted to the Bundesliga, confirmed Robin Zentner as the 05ers’ first-choice goalkeeper, prompting the departure of Florian Müller on loan to Freiburg. Zentner can expect a busy afternoon, though, having conceded eight on Mainz’s last visit to the Red Bull Arena, where the 05ers have shipped 17 in four Bundesliga games and won just a single point. Youngster Jonathan Burkardt impressed in the midweek and could keep Karim Onisiwo - only recently over a stomach bug - out of the team.
Watch: Highlights of Leipzig's 8-0 mauling of Mainz last season
- Recent France debutant Upamecano averaged 11 challenges won per match in the Bundesliga for Leipzig last season.
- Werner top-scored with 28 goals, while Christopher Nkunku had the most assists with 13.
- Nagelsmann is the Bundesliga's youngest ever coach, having first taken charge of Hoffenheim at 28. At 33, he is still only three years older than his Leipzig goalkeeper, Peter Gulacsi.
- Leipzig beat Mainz home and away last season to the tune of 13 goals scored and zero conceded.
- Robin Quaison figures to be the 05ers' best chance of revenge. The Sweden forward top-scored with 13 goals last term.
- Mainz are heading into their 12th consecutive season of Bundesliga football. Leipzig are the league's youngest team, having first gained promotion in 2016.
Leipzig: Gulacsi - Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenberg - Mukiele, Sabitzer (c), Kampl, Angelino - Olmo, Hwang - Poulsen
Out: Hartmann (knee), Konate (hip), Laimer (knee), Martinez (not included)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann
Mainz: Zentner - Baku, St. Juste, Niakhate, Brosinksi - Barreiro, Latza (c) - Burkardt, Boetius, Quaison - Mateta
Out: Bell (not included), Fernandes (match fitness), Kunde (not included)
Doubtful: Ji (knee)
Coach: Achim Beierlorzer