RB Leipzig take on Bayern Munich at the Red Bull Arena in a potential title-deciding clash in the Bundesliga this weekend.
Following two weeks chock-full of international fixtures, club football returns this weekend with many potential title-deciding clashes scattered among Europe’s top five leagues. Saturday’s Ligue 1 encounter between Paris Saint-Germain and LOSC Lille is sure to attract some attention, but also on the same day, the Bundesliga will brace itself for an even bigger contest as RB Leipzig take on Bayern Munich.
Although hosts Leipzig lost crucial ground in the title race with a draw against Eintracht Frankfurt last month, they are still within touching distance of league leaders Bayern. In fact, a win at the Red Bull Arena this weekend could help Julian Nagelsmann’s men bridge the gap at the top to just one point.
The Bavarians, though, will be determined to squash their hopes of a late title charge and clinch a victory that could well and truly seal the fate of this season’s Bundesliga, with just seven games remaining after this particular matchday.
Hansi Flick’s men troops are in excellent form as well, securing four back-to-back wins in the league, although Leipzig, too, have performed really well recently. A 1-1 draw with Eintracht in MD25 was a minor blip in an otherwise faultless last few months that has seen Die Roten Bullen secure seven wins in their last eight league matches.
Leipzig, though, do boast an awful record against Bayern Munich, having beaten them just once in 11 competitive outings. The east German giants must improve on that record if they are to remain in the title race this season and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a closer look at their chances in this MD26 Topspiel in Bundesliga this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
ℹ️ Team news ahead of #RBLFCB
▶ Dayot #Upamecano has fully returned to team training. The defender has a good chance of being available for Saturday.
▶ @angel_tasende69 will not be involved.
▶ Kevin #Kampl will miss the game through suspension.
— RB Leipzig English (@RBLeipzig_EN) April 2, 2021
RB Leipzig have received a massive boost heading into this game after the club confirmed the return of Dayot Upamecano. The Frenchman will be fit to start against his future employers, although Julian Nagelsmann will continue to miss out on the services of Angelino.
The left-back’s absence due to injury has led to a scarcity of chances from the wider areas of the pitch, particularly from set-pieces and crosses. Christopher Nkunku has usually slotted in for the former Manchester City full-back, but Nagelsmann also has the option of deploying Amadou Haidara.
Haidara is the favourite as the German tactician may want to utilise Nkunku’s chance creation, in a more offensive role alongside Dani Olmo as the two look to offer the supply for the main striker Alexander Sorloth.
The Norwegian forward was in excellent form heading into this international break and will be hoping to impress with his physicality and ability to sniff goalscoring opportunities.
In midfield, Kevin Kampl misses out due to suspension while Konrad Laimer is a doubt after recently recovering from his long injury layoff. The absence of these two midfielders means Leipzig will have to rely on the services of Tyler Adams in the second line of press, alongside Marcel Sabitzer, with Nordi Mukiele serving as the right-sided wing-back.
Mukiele will be hoping to avoid any defensive mistakes similar to the ones that cost Leipzig big time in the Champions League tie against Liverpool. He will be covered by Ibrahima Konate on the right-hand side of the three-man backline, with Willi Orban and Upamecano completing the Leipzig defence.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Gulacsi; Konate, Upamecano, Orban; Mukiele, Sabitzer, Adams, Mukiele; Olmo, Nkunku; Sorloth
Bayern Munich faced a massive blow during the international break as Robert Lewandowski picked up an injury and has been sidelined for at least four weeks.
It poses numerous problems for Hansi Flick from a tactical perspective, as the German surely won’t rely on the services of the main alternative in Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. Instead, the Bayern Munich coach might opt for Serge Gnabry in the false nine role, along with Thomas Muller.
📸 Final training session ahead of tomorrow’s game. The international players back with the team [fcb] pic.twitter.com/7CYWLxm4EV
— Bayern & Germany (@iMiaSanMia) April 2, 2021
While Muller will operate in a deeper role, forming Bayern’s creative trifecta alongside Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman, it will be interesting to see whether he and Gnabry interchange position in between the game.
The Bavarians do have all other players available though, meaning we could expect Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich to operate in the double pivot as they look to continue their excellent form in the Bundesliga.
All the key defenders are likely to slot in their respective positions as well, with Jerome Boateng getting the nod ahead of Niklas Sule at centre-back, alongside David Alaba while Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies occupy the full-back roles. Manuel Neuer starts in goal, despite missing out on the recent Germany game against North Macedonia.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Muller, Coman; Gnabry
- RB Leipzig are currently on the longest unbeaten run in Bundesliga and have picked up 22 from a possible 24 points. Bayern have won each of their last four games.
- This will be the 10th meeting between Leipzig and Bayern in Bundesliga. Six of the previous nine have been with the two sides sitting in the top two places in the table.
- Robert Lewandowski has scored against 16 of 17 Bundesliga opponents so far this season, only failing to net against Leipzig. No player has ever scored against every opponent in a single season in Bundesliga history.
- A win for Bayern would take them seven points clear at the top of the table. Such a lead at this stage of the season has never been overturned.
- Bayern Munich have scored 78 goals in Bundesliga this season – a record tally in the competition after 26 Matchdays.
Player to Watch
Amid all the Mullers, Kimmichs and Gnabrys, Leon Goretzka is the one Bayern Munich player worth keeping an eye on this weekend. The German midfielder has been in marvellous form in the Bundesliga, not only marshalling the middle of the park with his aggression and leadership but also scoring goals for his teams.
Indeed, the former Schalke academy ace could create serious problems for Leipzig with his driving forward runs. His ability to head the ball and find himself in good scoring situations should supplement a depleted attacking unit, following the injury to star man Robert Lewandowski.
Therefore, it will be interesting to see how Julian Nagelsmann plans to deal with the threat of this particular individual in midfield, especially with the experienced Kevin Kampl out suspended.
RB Leipzig 1-3 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich tend to thrive when they are under pressure and with Robert Lewandowski ruled out, the players may just find that extra quality to down a Leipzig side that has struggled against big oppositions this season. They have often made defensive errors, which were evident in their games against Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund earlier in the campaign. It makes the Bavarians undisputed favourites heading into this game.