RB Leipzig host Bayern Munich on Saturday evening (kick-off: 6.30pm CEST) in an encounter that promises to be just as captivating as any clash between the two in recent years. Spearheaded by a game-changing Xavi Simons and with a strong recent head-to-head record, bundesliga.com details five reasons why Leipzig can get another one over Bayern at the Red Bull Arena.
1) Xavi leading the charge
Leipzig completed several big transfers during the off-season, making the permanent signings of Loïs Openda from Lens, as well as the likes of Benjamin Šeško and Castello Lukeba – but the loan capture of Xavi from Paris Saint-Germain has so far proven to be their signing of the summer.
The 20-year-old Dutchman has hit the ground running, scoring three goals and providing four assists, the latter of which is a Bundesliga high this term, in his first five league outings. Despite his tender age, the former PSV Eindhoven ace has slotted into Leipzig’s midfield with ease and has already developed into one of the team’s leaders. While a number of Marco Rose’s charges have the ability to cause Bayern plenty of problems, Xavi is a player who could decide the outcome on his own.
Watch: All Xavi's Bundesliga goals and assists so far
2) Efficiency personified
The stats suggest Leipzig are unlikely to be gifted a host of goalscoring opportunities by Bayern – Thomas Tuchel’s men have faced a league-low 42 shots on goals so far this term, which works out at a rate of just 8.4 per match. However, they may not need many chances if their efficiency so far this term is anything to go by.
Eleven sides have managed more than Leipzig’s 64 shots, but only Bayern (18), Bayer Leverkusen (17) and VfB Stuttgart (17) have netted more than their 14 strikes, which have come from an xG of 7.3 – they have therefore outperformed their expected tally by 6.7. That number puts them top of that respective leaderboard and means Bayern will have to be wary of allowing the Die Roten Bullen even the slightest sight of goal.
3) Defensive solidity
Finding the back of the net is only half of the battle – Leipzig will need to stay cool and calm at the back if they want to pick up all three points. Fortunately for them, they have been impressive defensively this term and will be a tough nut to crack.
Besides the 3-2 defeat to Leverkusen on the opening day of the Bundesliga term, Janis Blaswich has shipped just two goals in all competitions – one in the 5-1 hammering of Stuttgart and another as his side defeated Young Boys 3-1 in the UEFA Champions League. The goalkeeper has not had to pick the ball out of the net in 325 league minutes and has a division-leading three clean sheets to his name already. It seems Leipzig are currently at the top of their game at both ends of the pitch.
4) Leipzig have recent advantage
The season could hardly have started better for Leipzig as they defeated Bayern 3-0 in August’s Supercup. It was an impressive display from the victors, who prevailed thanks to a hat-trick from Dani Olmo – the Spaniard opened the scoring in the third minute and never looked back.
That triumph was a second in succession for the DFB Cup holders against the Bavarians, as they almost derailed the latter’s title charge last term with a 3-1 comeback victory at the Allianz Arena. All in all, Leipzig are unbeaten in the last three competitive meetings, a streak which Rose and Co. can use as inspiration under the lights this weekend.
Watch: Highlights of Leipzig's 2023 Supercup triumph
At the start of last season, Leipzig won just one of their opening five Bundesliga matches and sat in a lowly 11th place. That led to the dismissal of Domenico Tedesco, who was subsequently replaced by Rose after the 47-year-old departed Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2022.
Since then, Leipzig have been one of the best sides in the league and even managed to keep apace with Bayern throughout the last 12 months. Rose has now been in charge for 34 Bundesliga matches, picking up 73 points – as many as Bayern over the same period and better than every other team in the division. While Munich club's victories ultimately led to an 11th consecutive Bundesliga title and have put them top of the table this campaign, Rose has installed a winning mentality that means his team will not see themselves as inferior to their more illustrious opponents.
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