Leipzig and Hoffenheim shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw on Matchday 1. - © © gettyimages / Simon Hofmann
Leipzig and Hoffenheim shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw on Matchday 1. - © © gettyimages / Simon Hofmann

Leipzig vs Hoffenheim: The key duels

RB Leipzig's meeting with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim this weekend is a fixture laden with layers of interest, and is rightly generating a buzz across the Bundesliga and beyond.

Sandro Wagner vs Willi Orban

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Will Hoffenheim manage to extend their unbeaten start to the season? Can Leipzig stay undefeated at home? Will either or both remain in the top three? Who will edge ahead in the goalscoring race between Germany's top strikers, Sandro Wagner and Timo Werner? Will Leipzig break Hoffenheim's haul of 55 points set in their record-breaking debut season in the Bundesliga in 2008/09?

The answers to those questions inevitably lie in the players out on the pitch, so bundesliga.com has a closer look at the key on-field duels ahead of this mouthwatering encounter.

Standing at 194cm tall, Wagner is an imposing presence but offers much more than just the aerial threat his height suggests. Indeed, just two of his ten Bundesliga goals this season have been headers, with five coming from his left foot and three with his right. Skillful, strong always able to find space, the 29-year-old has established himself as one of the league's best strikers over the last 18 months and is a real handful for any defence.

- © imago / Thomas Frey

Timo Werner vs Niklas Süle

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While the previous duel may ultimately come down to a battle of strength, this one is all about pace and guile. Timo Werner has flourished at Leipzig since moving from VfB Stuttgart last summer and the 20-year-old's explosive acceleration has helped him net a personal-best ten goals so far this season. Agile, an excellent dribbler and constantly peeling off the shoulder of the last defender, Werner has become indispensable in Leipzig's attack.

He will be up against one of the most highly-rated defenders in Germany, however. Niklas Süle's stock his risen rapidly over the past couple of years: his consistently good displays at the back made the 21-year-old a key figure of the Germany U-23 side that earned a runners-up medal at the 2016 Olympics, which he followed up with a first senior international cap and a transfer to FC Bayern München in summer 2017. Werner will certainly have his work cut out for him if he is to get the better of a centre-back who has won 67 per cent of all challenges this term.

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Naby Keita vs Sebastian Rudy

Naby Keita and Sebastian Rudy were in all likelihood not among the most well-known names in the Bundesliga at the start of this season, but the midfielders' sterling displays thus far have thrust them into the spotlight. Keita has won a legion of new fans in his debut campaign in Germany's top flight thanks to his drive, creativity and eye-catching passes, which have helped him register four goals and three assists already. When the 21-year-old plays well, Leipzig invariably do well too.

Rudy will be the man charged with denying Keita and Leipzig any room to manoeuvre. The 26-year-old is a tireless runner in his role just in front of the defence, where he has won 53 per cent of all challenges and completed 79 per cent of all his passes so far this term. Composed on the ball and with excellent tactical awareness, it is no wonder Bayern swooped to sign him, like Süle, from summer 2017 onwards.

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Watch: Highlights of Hoffenheim's Matchday 17 win over Augsburg

- © gettyimages / Simon Hofmann

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