Preview: RB Leipzig vs. Hertha Berlin - prediction, team news, lineups
RB Leipzig will be looking to put pressure on the Bundesliga's top two when they play host to Hertha Berlin at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.
The Red Bulls returned to winning ways last time out and are within seven points of leaders Bayern Munich, who travel to second-place Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday in the pick of the midweek matches.
Just when Leipzig's title hopes looked to be dead and buried with three draws in a row, either side of the three-month coronavirus-enforced hiatus, they showed exactly what they are capable of against Mainz 05.
Inspired by hat-trick hero Timo Werner, Julian Nagelsmann's men smashed five unanswered goals past Mainz to not only drag themselves back into third place but also into title contention.
Something has got to give when Dortmund face off against Bayern on Wednesday, and Leipzig will hope to take full advantage when they welcome Hertha 24 hours later.
Hertha have a poor record against Leipzig, having lost six of their seven Bundesliga matches, making them the Red Bulls' favourite opponents.
In fact, only against SG Wattenscheid 09 do Hertha have a lower points-per-game average, losing both of their previous matches against a side now plying their trade in Regionalliga West.
However, Bruno Labbadia has helped transform the capital club's fortunes since taking over at the start of April, soon after the shock exit of Jurgen Klinsmann.
The Old Lady have won back-to-back matches since returning to action, seeing off Hoffenheim 3-0 and neighbours Union Berlin 4-0.
The 7-0 aggregate scoreline from his first two games means that Labbadia has made the joint-best start of any Hertha manager, level with Falko Gotze.
That Berlin derby - just the second ever held at this level - was a tight affair in the opening 45 minutes, but Labbadia's men stepped things up with all four goals after the restart.
This could therefore be the perfect time for Hertha to end their duck against Leipzig, though to do so they will have to keep Werner quiet after he broke his eight-game barren run in style last time out.
The Germany international has had a hand in 31 Bundesliga goals this season - 24 goals, seven assists - which is more than any player in the division has been involved in at this stage since such data collection started in 2004-05.
RB Leipzig's Bundesliga form: WWDDDW
RB Leipzig's form (all competitions): WDDWDW
Hertha Berlin's Bundesliga form: WLDDWW
Konrad Laimer left the pitch before half time with a knee injury against Mainz and is unlikely to play any part on Wednesday evening.
Leipzig are also expected to still be without back injury victim Ethan Ampadu, but Dayot Upamecano got an hour under his belt at the weekend after returning from suspension and will start this game.
Patrik Schick and Angelino are options to come into the side should Nagelsmann opt to rotate, with two games in three days likely to test the fitness of his squad.
As for Hertha, Marius Wolf has recovered from a foot injury and Mathew Leckie is also back in contention.
Matheus Cunha joined the Old Lady from Leipzig in January and should get the chance to show his former employers what they are missing out on.
Goals in back-to-back matches for Vedad Ibisevic will surely be enough for him to retain his place as the focal point in attack, meanwhile, with big-money signing Krzysztof Piatek watching on from the bench.
RB Leipzig possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Klostermann, Upamecano, Halstenberg; Mukiele, Sabitzer, Kampl, Angelino; Nkunku, Werner; Schick
Hertha Berlin possible starting lineup:
Jarstein; Pekarik, Boyata, Torunarigha, Plattenhardt; Skjelbred, Grujic; Lukebakio, Darida, Cunha; Ibisevic
We say: RB Leipzig 2-1 Hertha Berlin
Leipzig have a pretty formidable record against Hertha and looked back to their best against Mainz at the weekend. However, Hertha have scored seven unanswered goals in their two matches under Labbadia and will make things very tough for their third-place opponents on Wednesday.