Preview: RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich
German football makes a long-awaited return this weekend with a heavyweight clash at the top of the Bundesliga, when RB Leipzig host Bayern Munich on Friday night.
The champions lead the way once again in the standings, but Leipzig are in hot pursuit after a sensational run of results before the World Cup break.
Marco Rose’s appointment after the dismissal of Domenico Tedesco, who had a nightmare start to the season, has had the desired effect for Leipzig.
They have lost just once in the league under his stewardship and now sit third in the standings after being near the relegation zone when he arrived.
Leipzig safely made it through the Champions League group stage too, despite a heavy 4-1 defeat at home to Shakhtar Donetsk under Tedesco early in the campaign.
A convincing win over Shakhtar in the reverse fixture plus a historic win over Real Madrid helped them through, and that win kickstarted a run of six consecutive wins in all competitions going into the break.
Since the start of October, Die Roten Bullen are unbeaten, a run which stretches back 13 games, 11 of which have ended in victory.
They also have the best home form in the Bundesliga, having won six and drawn one of their seven matches at the Red Bull Arena, so despite the might of Bayern, the leaders may find it tough here.
The form of Christopher Nkunku has been a big factor, as the Frenchman ended 2022 with 33 goal contributions at club level, 10 more than any other Bundesliga player.
They also have arguably the world’s most sought-after central-defender too in the form of Josko Gvardiol after his stellar World Cup, in which no defender won possession more or made as many interceptions than the Croat.
Back in September, Bayern were four games without a win, but fast-forward two months and they had won six on the spin in the league to move clear at the top.
Their tally of 49 goals scored is far and away the best in the division and a record that everybody has become accustomed to with Bayern in recent seasons.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side netted an astonishing 21 goals in their final four home games before the World Cup break, unsurprisingly taking maximum points.
Leipzig may have the best home form in the league, but Bayern have the best away form, averaging over two points and almost three goals per game on the road.
Teenage sensation Jamal Musiala has the most goal contributions of any teenager or any German player in Europe’s top five leagues this season, and he has been crucial to their recent unstoppable form.
He was one of the 17 players Bayern had representing their nations at the World Cup, but the majority-German contingent were all sent home early.
Another one of those was Manuel Neuer, but Bayern and Germany’s number one will now miss the rest of the season after he broke his leg on a skiing holiday after being knocked out of the tournament.
This is usually a game that produces excitement, as there has been an incredible 50 goals scored in the 15 competitive meetings between the sides over the last six years, with a memorable 5-4 win for Bayern here back in 2017 being a notable clash.
The two sides met earlier in the season in the German Super Cup, and it was another thriller, as Bayern came out on top, winning 5-3 to claim the first piece of silverware for the season.
This will be a very important game in potentially determining where the biggest piece of domestic silverware will go too, as an away win will see Bayern go seven points clear, but Leipzig can close the gap to three points on the league leaders with a win themselves.
Bayern faced Leipzig’s sister club RB Salzburg in their final friendly before the season resumes, and played out a 4-4 draw, so this has all the hallmarks of being a fantastic encounter.
RB Leipzig Bundesliga form:
RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
Bayern Munich Bundesliga form:
Bayern Munich form (all competitions):
We say: RB Leipzig 2-3 Bayern Munich
On the return of German football, this has the potential to be one of the games of the season, but both sides have injury worries concerning some very important players.
Bayern often have the edge over Leipzig having only lost to them once since the Red Bull-owned club were promoted in 2016, and a win here would be huge for their title credentials.