Bayern Munich will be hoping to retain their place at the top of the Bundesliga table when they lock horns with RB Leipzig on Saturday.

Bayern Munich have a major battle on their hands heading into this weekend’s round of fixtures as they play hosts to title challengers RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

Backed by Austrian energy drink giants Red Bull, Leipzig have appeared as one of the most difficult oppositions for Bayern Munich in recent years. In fact, the Bavarians have won just one of the last five meetings between these two teams, failing to score twice in the process.

The stakes could be high this time around, as Leipzig, second on the league table with 20 points on the board, look to overtake Bayern (22) at the top. They do, however, need all three points to do so and that could be a difficult task given the fact that the east German giants have secured just one win against their Bavarian opponents in nine previous meetings.

RB Leipzig, however, are stronger than they have ever been and with their coach Julian Nagelsmann more than capable of masterminding an upset, we can expect them to put up a strong challenge. Bayern, on the other hand, are coming on the back of a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.

They have not exactly been consistent this season, and there has been a loss of form, indicated by the result against Werder Bremen last month. So it won’t be surprising to see the record champions struggling to dominate this fixture. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will now run the rule over these two sides ahead of this weekend’s Topspiel at the Allianz Arena.

Team News & Tactics

Bayern Munich

Unstoppable. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Lewandowski is eyeing a return to the team sheet after missing out against Atletico Madrid. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Bayern Munich head coach Hansi Flick made a host of changes to the side that featured against Atletico Madrid in midweek. Robert Lewandowski was a notable absentee due to a minor muscular problem, although we do expect the Pole to recover in time and lead the attack for the home side this weekend.

There could be changes elsewhere as well, with Leroy Sane and Douglas Costa likely to make way for Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry. Coman and Gnabry will occupy the wider attacking positions while Thomas Muller should re-occupy his place in the number ten role, as Flick returns to a traditional 4-2-3-1.

In midfield, Bayern Munich are still missing out on the services of Joshua Kimmich. With Leon Goretzka pretty much a guaranteed starter, Flick has three options to choose from alongside the German international, including Javi Martinez, Corentin Tolisso and new signing Marc Roca.

Martinez’s lack of pace could make him a liability in midfield while Tolisso has had his fair share of problems with injuries. It might just make Roca a favourite, as he was not involved in the game against Atletico due to suspension.

Bayern have another notable absentee in the defensive unit in the shape of Alphonso Davies. The Canadian is still out injured, so we can expect Lucas Hernandez to continue at left-back while Benjamin Pavard should replace Bouna Sarr on the opposite flank. They will look to provide support to the central defenders in Jerome Boateng and David Alaba.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Hernandez; Roca, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski

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RB Leipzig

RB Leipzig are missing some key defenders including Benjamin Henrichs and Lukas Klostermann while holding midfielder Konrad Laimer is a long-term absentee.

Nagelsmann, therefore, will continue to rely on the services of Kevin Kampl and club captain Marcel Sabitzer in the second line of press, although the German tactician does have the option of deploying Amadou Haidara or Tyler Adams in the middle of the park. One of them will surely appear as a second-half substitute nonetheless.

Lukas Klostermann remains unavailable. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Lukas Klostermann remains unavailable. (Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Klostermann and Henrichs’s absence, meanwhile, means Nordi Mukiele is a guaranteed starter in the right wing-back position, with Angelino starting on the opposite flank. They could, however, operate in a deeper role and provide defensive support to the back three comprising of Dayot Upamecano, Ibrahima Konate and Willi Orban.

Marcel Halsternberg is another option should Nagelsmann look to shuffle his pack. The German, if he features, could replace Konate at the heart of the three-man backline.

Finally, in attack, Emil Forsberg could be given a breather, thus paving the way for Dani Olmo and Christopher Nkunku to start in the attacking midfield positions. The duo will look to provide creative support to Yussuf Poulsen in the number nine role, although Nagelsmann has loads of alternative including Alexander Sorloth, Justin Kluivert and Lazar Samardzic.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Gulacsi; Orban, Konate, Upamecano; Mukiele, Sabitzer, Kampl, Angelino; Olmo, Nkunku; Poulsen

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Key Stats

  • Bayern Munich have earned 86 points in 33 league games under Hansi Flick so far, giving the 55-year-old the best record in league history at such a juncture.
  • Manuel Neuer has kept 197 clean sheets in 414 Bundesliga games; an all-time best shut-out quota of 47.6 per cent.
  • Julian Nagelsmann has picked up at least a point in five of his eight Bundesliga matches against Bayern (two wins, three draws). He has not lost against the Reds while in charge of Leipzig (two draws).
  • RB Leipzig have had more shots (150), won more penalties (five) and won more challenges (1051) than any other Bundesliga team this term.
  • Centre-back Dayot Upamecano has clocked the second-fastest sprint of any player in 2020/21 at 21.96 mph (35.34 km/h), second only to VfB Stuttgart’s Silas Wamangituka 22.00 mph (35.42 km/h).

Player to Watch

Angelino

Angelino has set the gold standard for wing-backs all across Europe this season, becoming a real asset for RB Leipzig on the left flank. He has been involved in as many as nine goals in just 15 competitive matches, providing both creativity and penetration. It has played a key role in boosting his team’s effectiveness going forward.

Julian Nagelsmann will, therefore, be keen on using Angelino’s momentum to cause Bayern Munich some trouble, particularly on the left flank, where the wing-back will be up against Benjamin Pavard. The Frenchman has not had the best of seasons, often looking vulnerable at the back, so it will be interesting to see whether or not Angelino can do his job this weekend.

One thing is for certain – the Spaniard’s performance in this game will play a major role in dictating the outcome of this fixture as RB Leipzig look to continue their merry ways.

Prediction

Bayern Munich 1-1 RB Leipzig

It is quite reasonable to believe that this is going to become a cagey affair, especially given Leipzig’s defensive structure while the hosts are missing key players. A lot could depend on how star players like Robert Lewandowski and Angelino perform in this game, but we do expect the two sides to share the spoils at the Allianz Arena this weekend.

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