DFL - © Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig have some catching up to do, heading into their showdown at the Allianz Arena.
DFL - © Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig have some catching up to do, heading into their showdown at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig: how do they stack up?


Bayern Munich in second and fifth-placed RB Leipzig are brimming with star quality and are both eager for points, setting us up for what could be another spectacular clash on Matchday 23...

Bayern will surely do everything to win and avoid the prospect of Bayer Leverkusen ending the weekend 11 points clear at the top. Leipzig will also be determined to land another statement victory - as they remain a point shy of Borussia Dortmund and the top four. 

Leipzig have enjoyed the better of the two sides' recent encounters, with a gripping 2-2 draw on Matchday 6 following a 3-0 win in the season-opening Supercup. Star-studded champions Bayern do, in fact, go into the encounter in the distinctly unusual position of aiming for a first win in five against their opponents. 

Watch: Highlights of the 2-2 draw between the teams in September

bundesliga.com checks the shape of the Saxony upstarts and the Bavarian juggernaut...

Hearts of gold: Jamal Musiala v Xavi

The rivals both boast glittering attacks with Bayern the league's leading scorers with 61 goals after 22 matches, and Leipzig not far behind with 48 strikes (the fourth most). 

The most notable similarity to their prowess is the presence of a gifted young playmaker behind the respective front men.

Watch: Jamal Musiala and Xavi compared

Musiala and Xavi were born within two months of one another in spring 2003, and the midfield maestros both boast six goals so far this season. There is a fascinating contrast between their styles, however.

The German youngster in a Bayern shirt carries the ball with a staggering confidence and remarkable grace of movement. He has proved beyond doubt that he has what it takes to step up and deliver in big moments - such as with his late title-winning goal in Cologne on the final day of last season.

Watch: Xavi talks about his wondergoal against Leverkusen

The Dutch youngster in a Leipzig shirt, on the other hand, has a habit of pulling off extraordinary technical exploits that leave spectators open-mouthed. His brilliant goal against Leverkusen that won him the Bundesliga Goal of the Month honour for January was one such magic moment, and his staggering mid-air take and volley from the edge of the box in Leipzig's 2-0 win against Borussia Mönchengladbach last weekend was another.

Small wonder that Xavi said afterwards he has long marked the Bayern match in his agenda and was targeting three points in Munich.

Strike masters

Musiala and Xavi have been helped by the presence of sheer goalscorer extraordinaires in front of them. Loïs Openda looked very much like a striker with an increasingly refined touch in front of goal against Gladbach - dispatching his fifth strike in as many Bundesliga games with a delightful chip ('cheeky' in the words of Bundesliga commentator Derek Rae). Openda scored in the first encounter between the sides this season in Leipzig thanks to a burst of his immense pace that took him clear of the Bayern defence before slotting in. 

Watch: Xavi, Olmo and Openda - Leipzig artists

Twenty-year-old Benjamin Šeško began on the bench against Gladbach having scored in each of the three preceding Bundesliga games. Marco Rose might be tempted to unleash him again against Bayern as one half of a real handful of a front two. All three of those strikes were unstoppable headers that showed the true force of the Slovenian's 194cm (6' 3.5") frame - which is helping to make Leipzig feared up and down the Bundesliga this season for their set-piece prowess.

If you add up an Openda with 16 goals, a Šeško with six goals, and a Yussuf Poulsen with three goals then you just about match the output of a certain Harry Kane. The England captain continues to post quite flabbergasting figures in his debut season in Germany, despite Bayern's recent run of defeats. His calm short-range finish in the 86th minute in Bochum last weekend was not enough to salvage a result, but it broke a two-game scoring, ahem, drought.

Kane has been around long enough to know he has what it takes to step up and deliver a goalscoring masterclass whatever the opposition. Leipzig, the side Kane made his Bayern debut against in the Supercup, might just offer the kind of test he would relish passing by supplying more goals to add to his league-leading 25 already this season.   

Watch: Kane scores late goal in Bochum defeat

Comeback keepers: Manuel Neuer v Péter Gulácsi

Another parallel between the stories of the two sides this season has been the return of vastly experienced and popular goalkeepers after long injury breaks. Neuer's return in October after close to a year on the sidelines with a complicated leg break was an immediate success, with the 37-year-old club captain keeping goal in an 8-0 demolition of Darmstadt

That was the first of six clean sheets the Germany international has kept in 14 appearances since - roughly in line with his overall ratio of 241 clean sheets in 507 Bundesliga appearances for Bayern. If we know Neuer as well as we think we do, he will surely be smarting at having missed the 1-3 and 0-3 defeats to Leipzig in Munich in May and August (in the Bundesliga and Supercup) and relishing the chance to stop Openda and Šeško in their tracks. 

Watch: Neuer reflects on injury comeback

Gulácsi has been with Leipzig for the best part of Neuer's near 13-year spell at Bayern - the Hungarian having kept goal ever since the club were in Bundesliga 2 back in 2015/16. A cruciate ligament injury in October 2022 brought his long spell in between the sticks for Leipzig to a sudden halt, and he would not appear in the Bundesliga again until earlier this month - making an emotional return in a 2-0 home win over Union Berlin

Two clean sheets in his first three appearances back in the side makes for a thoroughly successful comeback so far, and he will take that up another gear if he can keep out Kane and Bayern's other attacking marvels.  

Young guns

One of the bright spots in Bayern's season so far has been the emergence of a few extremely promising young talents. Given the side's current struggle for form, it might not be all too surprising to see Thomas Tuchel pivot towards the fearlessness of youth when Leipzig visit the Allianz Arena.

Watch: Aleksandar Pavlovic - from ball boy to Bayern player

Aleksandar Pavlovic was not in the Bayern squad in Bochum, but the 19-year-old defensive midfielder with great forward vision will be raring to go if given a chance against Leipzig. The young talent netted his first Bundesliga goal only last month in Augsburg, after all, and immediately followed that up with a tidy strike in Bayern's last match in Munich, a 3-1 win over Gladbach.

Teenage forward Mathys Tel drifted in from the left to set up Harry Kane and grab his third assist of the season during a strong four-minute cameo appearance in Bochum, and he may just have made the case for more playing time in the process.

Youthful verve has long been a key part of Leipzig's identity. Of seven attack-minded players in their squad, only two are over the age of 24 - Poulsen and 25-year-old Dani Olmo (who was the hero of Leipzig's Supercup win with a hat-trick). With 22-year-old Nicolas Seiwald gathering important Bundesliga playing time in central midfield after joining last summer, and young defenders Mohamed Simakan (23) and Castello Lukeba (21) regularly featuring, it is no surprise Rose's starting line-ups are frequently among the youngest in the whole division.

20-year-old Benjamin Šeško is just one of a number of talented youngsters in Leipzig's ranks. - IMAGO/Ulrich Hufnagel

Youth is therefore set to be an intriguing extra element as two big names of the German game packed with power and world-class playing quality lock horns on Saturday.