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Can RB Leipzig close in on Bayern Munich and their teen sensation Jamal Musiala (c.) as the Bundesliga resumes? - © Sebastian Widmann/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty
Can RB Leipzig close in on Bayern Munich and their teen sensation Jamal Musiala (c.) as the Bundesliga resumes? - © Sebastian Widmann/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty
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5 reasons to watch RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich

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RB Leipzig versus Bayern Munich is a bumper fixture to headline the return of Bundesliga football in the new year. bundesliga.com provides five reasons why this game is absolutely box office…

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Bayern had the joint second-most representatives of any club on the planet at this winter's World Cup, and much of their non-German contingent were a backline of French superstars. While Lucas Hernandez remains injured following his injury in France’s opener, Dayot Upamecano and Benjamin Pavard will be readily available to slot back into the most secure backline in the league. Kingsley Coman is also likely to feature with Sadio Mane still unavailable, while French wonderkid Mathys Tel is pushing for more minutes, especially after his praised efforts in last week's friendly with Red Bull Salzburg - a fixture chosen with Bayern's coming opponents in mind.

Leipzig boast a couple of French superstars of their own. Last season's Bundesliga Player of the Year, Christopher Nkunku, has been in red-hot form once again this term and leads the top scoring charts, but faces a race against time to feature for Die Roten Bullen after suffering torn ligaments that ruled him out of the World Cup. Meanwhile, France U21 international Mo Simakan is likely to start in defence and will need to be at his very best if Leipzig are to keep the reigning record champions at bay.

Watch: Leipzig superstar Christopher Nkunku 

Supercup revenge for Leipzig?

Last year’s DFB Cup winners Leipzig met 2021/22 league champions Bayern at the Red Bull Arena in the Supercup at the end of July, in a match that usually sets the tone for the campaign to come. In Mane's debut, Bayern put to bed any doubts of their Robert Lewandowski-less era, as they brushed Leipzig aside. They romped into a 4-1 lead, with Mane on the scoresheet just half an hour into his Bayern bow, before Julian Nagelsmann's outfit wrapped up a 5-3 win.

This will be Leipzig’s first meeting with Bayern since that hot July afternoon, and it remains to be seen whether the coolness of winter will be more effective for Die Roten Bullen. What is clear, though, is their recovery this season has been nothing short of extraordinary. Following the departure of Domenico Tedesco as head coach, the team were languishing in mid-table and struggling in the UEFA Champions League. Enter Marco Rose – the Leipzig native who has since changed the fortunes of the team. RB have lost only once in the league under Rose and zipped all the way up to third in the table, while safely booking passage into the knockouts at Europe's top table.

Watch: Bayern down Leipzig in July's Supercup

The most in-form teams go head-to-head

Apart from Niko Kovac’s Wolfsburg, no side in the Bundesliga can match the form of Leipzig and Bayern across the final five games before the winter break. It's yet to be seen whether the World Cup will stunt any momentum gained in October and November, but these two sides have what it takes to win in the Bundesliga. Leipzig are unbeaten in all competitions since the start or October (P13, W11, D2) and have won each of their last four in the league. The introduction of Rose permitted a more free-flowing style of football and the goals from Nkunku started to roll in relentlessly before the break.

Back in September, Bayern were four games without a win, but have won each of their previous six in the Bundesliga, are eight unbeaten (W7, D1) and only dropped points in a 2-2 draw against Der Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund. The resurgent form of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting has been crucial in recent weeks and, with 49 goals scored, they are the highest scoring team in the league by some margin.

Watch: A tactical analysis of Bayern's season so far

The Bundesliga's back

The 2022 World Cup delivered some stunning football, but we're now all set for domestic football's return. There were some eye-catching performances from players of both camps in Qatar, one of which was Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol. The 20-year-old won plaudits across the globe for his backline efforts throughout the competition and Leipzig will be hoping that he builds on that form when the Bundesliga gets back up and running.

Bayern full-back Noussair Mazraoui also featured prominently for Morocco as they reached fourth place in tournament, while young defender Josip Stanisic played alongside Gvardiol against the North Africans as Croatia claimed bronze in the third-place playoff. After some well-earned rest, the two squads now get back to Bundesliga business, with a blockbuster second half of the season still to come. There is no better way to get players and fans alike in the mood than this battle between two of the league's heavyweights.

Josko Gvardiol returns to the Bundesliga as a bronze-medal winner at the World Cup. - IMAGO/Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL/IMAGO/Pixsell

A title race six-pointer

With 17 rounds of fixtures still to go, there is plenty to play for over the remainder of the 2022/23 campaign. When ask ahead of the Salzburg game whether the Leipzig clash was a defining one in the title race even at this stage, Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic responded with an immediate "definitely".

A Leipzig win would see them gain three vital points at the expense of the league leaders – putting them firmly in the running to claim a first Meisterschale in the club's history. That result would also open the door for the likes of Freiburg, Eintracht Frankfurt, Union Berlin and Dortmund to put the pressure on Nagelsmann's current league leaders.

With a six-point difference between the two teams ahead of kick-off, Leipzig could half that deficit with victory. A home win, paired with Freiburg collecting three points from their trip to Wolfsburg, would also see Bayern's lead reduced to just one point. Should Nagelsmann's team see off Leipzig, however, they could open up a seven point gap to second and a nine point advantage over RBL, should Freiburg also taste defeat. With so much at stake, and so much talent on show, there's a lot to get excited about when Leipzig and Bayern clash under the lights on Matchday 16. Welcome back, Bundesliga, we've missed you.