The Bundesliga returns with a bang this weekend as RB Leipzig lock horns with Bayern Munich at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday.
After a chock-full of international fixtures for the past week or so, club football in Europe returns this weekend. The return will be an exciting one for the Bundesliga fans, in particular, as last season’s runner-up RB Leipzig play hosts to Rekordmeister Bayern Munich on Saturday’s Topspiel.
It will be a return to the Red Bull Arena for Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann, who had managed Leipzig for two years before joining the Bavarians in the summer. He was also joined by Marcel Sabitzer and Dayot Upamecano, and all of them are expected to receive a cold welcome back by the fans.
As far as the performances are concerned, Leipzig have had a mixed start to the campaign under new coach Jesse Marsch. They have secured only three points in three matches, losing to VfL Wolfsburg and 1.FSV Mainz 05, which has put early pressure on the American tactician.
Bayern, meanwhile, are flying high, thanks to a run of four back to back wins that included the Super Cup triumph over Borussia Dortmund and the heavy 12-0 romping of fifth division side Bremer SV in the DFB Pokal. However, they are not leading the table, as Wolfsburg are still the only club to retain a hundred percent winning record in the Bundesliga so far.
Nevertheless, it will be an uphill task for Leipzig to get anything out of this game, but they will be aware of the fact that an upset could potentially propel their season while serving as a major boost for the other title challenger in Borussia Dortmund.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their important match-up at the Red Bull Arena this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Jesse Marsch on losing Sabitzer and Upamecano to Bayern: "That might not be ideal, but the situation in football is always changing. Bayern is a great club. They always have a lot of money and flexibility. They often use this power to find the best players in the league." [Sky] pic.twitter.com/sP20szvp2W
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) September 9, 2021
RB Leipzig coach Jesse Marsch has a decision to make regarding the inclusion of Dani Olmo. The former FC Barcelona playmaker is likely to be fit, but he could be used for the upcoming Champions League game against Manchester City.
It essentially means Leipzig could continue with Dominik Szoboszlai, who has been in excellent touch in these early parts of the campaign. Christopher Nkunku and Emil Forsberg could join him in the creative department, as they look to provide the service for Andre Silva.
It is secret that the Portuguese international thrives on service and is a lethal goalscorer, so the focus will be on creating opportunities from the wider areas of the pitch. But unfortunately, Leipzig are missing one of their fullbacks in Marcel Halstenberg, though that is unlikely to faze Marsch’s team selection.
The former RB Salzburg coach has preferred new signing Josko Gvardiol ahead of Angelino, while using Lukas Klostermann in a more attacking role, unlike his predecessor. We are expecting a similar setup this time around, with Klostermann expected to provide the width, and Gvardiol primarily operating deeper to aid the central defensive duo of Willi Orban and Mohamed Simakan.
In midfield, Marsch has been consistent with the selection of his compatriot Tyler Adams. He should operate in the holding midfield position but occasionally cover for Klostermann, during his marauding runs forward. He will be supported by Amadou Haidara, who, in turn, has the tendency to drift out wide, giving Leipzig a versatile midfield unit.
Probabe Lineup (4-2-3-1): Gulacsi; Klostermann, Orban, Simakan, Gvardiol; Adams, Haidara; Szoboszlai, Forsberg, Nkunku; Silva
Bayern Munich head coach Julian Nagelsmann will need to be careful with his squad selection on Saturday, as he keeps one eye on the important UEFA Champions League matchup against FC Barcelona in midweek.
Fortunately, it appears Alphonso Davies, Thomas Muller and Dayot Upamecano have made excellent progress and are in contention to start both games. Davies, though, might not be risked against Leipzig, which means there could be a starting opportunity for Lucas Hernandez, who had made his recovery during the international break.
JN: "Müller & Upa are fit and are options for the starting lineup. They trained very well. Thomas still feels something (in his adductor), but it's nothing dramatic." pic.twitter.com/i8KJMBaSEn
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) September 10, 2021
At right-back, Nikola Stanisic should continue to deputise for the injured Benjamin Pavard, while both Niklas Sule and Dayot Upamecano should continue to feature in central defence, providing the coverage for Manuel Neuer in goal.
Nagelsmann has confirmed that new signing Marcel Sabitzer is an option against Leipzig. But he is unlikely to start, and with almost all the players available, Bayern Munich might want to continue with the trusted midfield duo of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka.
The two offer an excellent balance between aggressive, leadership and creativity, which has been reflected in the success they had in recent years. However, Leipzig should give them a stern test, and it will be interesting to see how they cope with the challenge this weekend.
As for the attack, Robert Lewandowski is the undisputed leader of the Bayern frontline. But who starts in the creative department remains to be seen. Leroy Sane, for one, is a favourite, but the former Man City winger had started in all three of Germany’s games during the international break and could be rested for the Barcelona clash.
As such, Jamal Musiala could form the creative trifecta alongside Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller, as they look to provide the goalscoring opportunity for Lewandowski in the final third.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Stanisic, Upamecano, Sule, Hernandez; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Musiala; Lewandowski
- Andre Silva has scored against 13 of the 18 current Bundesliga clubs. Bayern are not one of them (two games without a goal).
- Three points from as many games is Leipzig’s worst start to a Bundesliga season.
- That said, Die Roten Bullen were the last team to stop Bayern from scoring in competitive action, on 9 February 2020.
- Julian Nagelsmann averaged 1.93 points per game across 68 matches in charge of Leipzig. He’s averaging 2.33 at the Bayern helm so far.
- Robert Lewandowski has scored five times in nine league meetings with Leipzig.
Player to Watch
I think this Musiala is the one. There’s something ridiculously unique about the way he plays and the way he’s started this season at 18 years of age is not normal
— Kurt (@Kurt0411Fifa) September 2, 2021
Jamal Musiala is the man in demand, in German football right now. Despite not being recognised as a regular starter for Bayern Munich, the youngster has lit up the Bundesliga with his blazing performances in recent matches, notably starring in the 5-0 win over Hertha Berlin as well as the 12-0 victory over Bremer SV.
The 18-year-old’s neat footwork and ability to find spaces in behind the backline have already seen him being compared to none other than Mesut Ozil. However, Leipzig could give him a much tougher test than the likes of Iceland, Bremer or Hertha, which means the former Chelsea prodigy will need to be at the top of his game in order to make his presence felt this weekend.
Aware that another excellent performance this weekend could help him gain a prominent role in the Bayern Munich squad, Jamal Musiala is our player to watch out for.
RB Leipzig 1-1 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich are the undisputed favourites heading into this encounter considering their form and the number of quality players available at their disposal. However, many perhaps underrate the quality of the Leipzig backline, especially with Simakan settling into life really well in the Bundesliga.
The Frenchman could be a real thorn in the side for Lewandowski and overall, we are expecting an entertaining affair where both teams might have to share the spoils.