The German top flight is back with a bang this weekend with high-flying RB Leipzig hosting division leaders FC Bayern München under the Friday night lights.
A pulsating fixture between two sides that found formidable form prior to the season pause is the promise as we get back underway on Matchday 16. Both Leipzig and Bayern go into the game boasting respective 13-game unbeaten runs in all competitions, with Friday’s third-placed hosts a mere six points behind Bundesliga leaders Bayern.
“Our task is to find our way back into the form that we were in during the first half of the season; that’s no easy feat,” said Leipzig coach Marco Rose ahead of what will be a 12th Bundesliga meeting between the teams. The 46-year-old – brought in to replace Domenico Tedesco last September – has overseen an awesome upturn in fortunes at the Red Bull Arena since his arrival. A haul of 23 points from his last 10 Bundesliga games in charge is matched only by weekend opponents Bayern. Leipzig also have the best home record in the top flight so far this term, winning 19 points on their own turf.
Rose added that his side are “extremely motivated” as they get set to face the record champions, who are themselves riding the wave of an upsurge in fortunes under the guise of former Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann. Bayern won their last six Bundesliga games in a row – a feat no other team has managed this term – to rise to the top of the pile before the winter break. What’s more, the Bavarian giants are clearly kings of this particular fixture, the defending Bundesliga champions having lost just once in 11 games (winning seven) against Leipzig in Germany’s top tier.
Leipzig vs Bayern
“We’ll go there full of confidence and don’t just want to make a statement with this pivotal game but also move away from Leipzig in the table,” Bayern’s talismanic attacker Thomas Müller commented, the 33-year-old adding, “We’re confident.”
Although Leipzig will be without star turn Christopher Nkunku, who continues his recovery from a knee ligament tear, Friday’s hosts do have their powerful forward Timo Werner available again in up front. Bayern, meanwhile, will be able to fill the Sadio Mane injury void with some impressive attacking options of their own. Teen sensation and Germany international Jamal Musiala, for example, will need to be closely watched by Bayern’s opponents, with the 19-year-old already weighing in with an incredible nine goals and six assists in the Bundesliga so far this campaign.
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Aside from Friday’s fantastic match-up, there are plenty of other fascinating games as the Bundesliga gets back up and running this weekend. SC Freiburg – second in the standings and enjoying their best season ever – visit a VfL Wolfsburg side who are unbeaten in eight and who have won their last four games in a row.
Frankfurt vs Schalke
Attacking powerhouse Eintracht Frankfurt and their incredible French forward Randal Kolo Muani host basement side FC Schalke 04, who are in desperate need of a new-year lift. The Royal Blues will be highly wary of Die Adler, whose 32 league goals are bettered only by Bayern.
Borussia Dortmund – in sixth – have received a huge boost with the return to fitness of Sebastien Haller, the striker back in the BVB fold and fresh off a seven- minute friendly hat-trick following a battle with testicular cancer. Haller & Co. welcome FC Augsburg to Signal Iduna Park on Sunday, the same day that Daniel Farke’s Borussia Mönchengladbach face Xabi Alonso’s in-form Bayer 04 Leverkusen for regional bragging rights.
1. FC Union Berlin – who led the Bundesliga for seven matchdays this season – will hope for a return to winning ways this weekend, but Urs Fischer’s men won’t have it easy against TSG Hoffenheim. VfL Bochum against Hertha Berlin, meanwhile, could have big implications in terms of a future relegation battle, something lowly VfB Stuttgart will also be keen to avoid. Die Schwaben are at home to mid-table 1. FSV Mainz 05 in new coach Bruno Labbadia’s first game of his second stint in charge, ahead of a Saturday evening game that pits free-flowing 1. FC Köln against SV Werder Bremen and their star striker Niclas Füllkrug looking to pick up where he left off in 2022.