Timo Werner and Thorgan Hazard cross swords when RB Leipzig host Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday. - © © imago
Timo Werner and Thorgan Hazard cross swords when RB Leipzig host Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday. - © © imago
Bundesliga

Key battles: RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach – where can it be won and lost?

Timo Werner and Thorgan Hazard headline Bundesliga Matchday 13's show-stopper between RB Leipzig and Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 3:30 pm CET/2:30 pm GMT/9:30 am ET).

The talismanic duo have been in electric form so far in 2018/19, spearheading their respective side's push for UEFA Champions League football - and possibly more.

With four points standing between fourth-placed Leipzig and second-in-the-table Gladbach at the time of writing, who will win out at the Red-Bull Arena? And what role will the supporting cast have to play? bundesliga.com weighs up the key battles...

Werner vs. Hazard: The flying machines

There's no better place to start than the all-action heroes doing the business in front of goal.

A turbo-charged forward with licence to roam, Leipzig's Werner already has six goals in 12 outings. He's also chimed in with an assist, while all his goal-scoring efforts have come in twos - in wins against Hannover, Nuremberg and Hertha Berlin. But then he has fired off more shots on goal than any other player in the Bundesliga this term (51).

Suffice to say the Germany international is comfortably on track to record a third successive double-digit haul after hitting 13 last season and 21 - a best for a German national - in 2016/17.

Not that Werner should be measured purely on his end product. His pace makes him a real asset, above all on the counter where Leipzig have proved so effective since gaining promotion to the Bundesliga for the first time in 2016.

- © gettyimages / Matthias Kern

Poulsen vs. Plea: The goal-scoring centre-forwards

Of course, every p-p-p-p-player worth his salt needs a reliable wing man, and Messrs Werner and Hazard are no exception.

Leipzig battering ram Yussuf Poulsen is the perfect foil for his turbo-charged strike partner, the 6'3" front man's rough-and-ready approach putting him at 52 per cent in the aerial-challenges-won department. He's making the most of his chances, too, with six goals in 12 matches a personal best for the Dane in a single season.

That's as many as Werner, and only two fewer than Gladbach's leading men, Hazard and Alassane Plea.

Sabitzer vs. Hofmann: The providers

Plea's prolific induction owes much to the servicemen in midfield as it does to Hazard, albeit with one under-the-radar standout in particular.

Jonas Hofmann has been reborn in a more central role at Gladbach in 2018/19, following injury-hit stints with Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, where he operated as a somewhat mercurial winger.

Fit, healthy and playing the best football of his career, the 26-year-old has already posted a combined career-best return for a single campaign of five goals and three assists in 11 appearances.

Watch: Jonas Hofmann scored his first career hat-trick on Matchday 8

- © gettyimages / Robert Michael

It's a role Leipzig haven't managed to fill quite so effectively in the on-going absence of Emil Forsberg.

The Sweden international supplied a league-leading 19 assists in 2016/17, but has provided only four since, with two coming this season.

He's missed Leipzig's last four matches with a nagging groin problem, leaving the onus on Marcel Sabitzer (two goals, two assists) to assume creator-in-chief duties for the visit of Gladbach.

Only two Bundesliga stoppers have recorded more shut-outs than Sommer, but only one has a superior ratio when it comes to shots saved. You guessed it, Leipzig's Peter Gulacsi.

Second to Dortmund's Roman Bürki for clean sheets, Gulacsi has been a busy beaver in 2018/19, but he has displayed the concentration and confidence levels to match.

In 1144 minutes of Bundesliga action, the former Liverpool custodian has faced 44 shots on his goal, repelling 33 of them. That's pushing 80 per cent - and it could be a game-changer for a Leipzig side that leaked the fourth-highest number of goals in the Bundesliga last season (53).

Needless to say, Hazard and Co. will need to be razor-sharp to cut through Gulacsi and the gang...

- © gettyimages / Robert Michael
- © gettyimages / Alexander Hassenstein
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- © imago / opokupix