There's plenty of attacking talent on show in Leroy Sane, Sadio Mane, Jamal Musiala, Patrik Schick, Moussa Diaby and Callum Hudson-Odoi (l-r.) as Bayern Munich face Bayer Leverkusen. - © /
There's plenty of attacking talent on show in Leroy Sane, Sadio Mane, Jamal Musiala, Patrik Schick, Moussa Diaby and Callum Hudson-Odoi (l-r.) as Bayern Munich face Bayer Leverkusen. - © /
bundesliga

Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen: how do they stack up?

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The Bundesliga returns with a bang from the first international break of the season as Bayern Munich take on Bayer Leverkusen in the Matchday 8 curtain-raiser.

In fifth and fifteenth place respectively in the table, neither side has yet hit top form in 2022/23, but with so much quality out on the pitch it is simply a matter of time before they do. bundesliga.com takes a look at how the teams compare.

Second season syndrome for coaches?

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann and Leverkusen counterpart both Gerardo Seoane took the reins of their respective teams on 1 July 2021.

Each enjoyed a sensational debut season, with Nagelsmann winning his first Bundesliga title thanks to some swashbuckling displays, and Leverkusen earning plaudits for their breathless attack-minded approach that yielded third place in the league and a run to the UEFA Europa League last 16.

Watch: Analysing Nagelsmann's Bayern

However, both teams have struggled to continue that momentum into the 2022/23 season. Bayern are winless in their last four Bundesliga assignments (D3 L1) as they continue to adapt to life without Robert Lewandowski, while Leverkusen have won just one of their first seven Bundesliga games, losing four.

This match, then, represents a fresh opportunity, a chance to kick-start the season with an important victory over a top-four rival. Much will depend on the coaches’ ability to turn things around. Will the red-hot tactical mind of Nagelsmann come out on top, or will it be the older, more experienced Seoane? One thing’s for sure: it’s going to be a lot of fun finding out.

Potent front lines

Bayern may have wobbled of late but they are still the Bundesliga’s leading scorers after seven rounds of matches with 19 goals. Dig a little deeper, however, and the vast majority of those came in two early season games before the midweek UEFA Champions League fixtures began: a 6-1 Matchday 1 success in Frankfurt followed by a 7-0 triumph in Bochum on Matchday 3.

Since then they have scored five goals in four league games. Only five teams have netted fewer in that same period.

So what does that all mean for Matchday 8? Well, in part it depends on how their players fared during the international break. Goals and victories can give added confidence boosts, while injuries and illness may also be factors.

Watch: Bayern Analysis: Fantastic Four Up Front

There is no doubt, however, that whoever ends up taking to the pitch will be part of a formidable front line. Jamal Musiala (four goals, one assist) looks undroppable at present, leaving Sadio Mane (three goals), Leroy Sane (two goals, one assist), Thomas Müller (one goal, two assists) and Serge Gnabry (two goals, one assist) to jostle for the remaining three positions up front in what is usually a fluid 4-2-3-1 formation.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, averaged 2.35 goals per game last season but despite keeping hold of their key players over the summer, even agreeing contract extensions with Patrik Schick and Florian Wirtz, they are averaging just 1.28 goals in 2022/23.

Schick, who hit 24 league goals last term, has struck just twice this season, with Kerem Demirbay the leading marksman on three. The absence of lockpicker-in-chief Wirtz may well be taking its toll, with the teenager likely out until next year as he recovers from a cruciate knee injury, but in Moussa Diaby, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Adam Hlozek there are plenty of other options to pick up the slack.

Watch: The best of Patrik Schick

Davies vs Frimpong: jet-heeled wing duel

A tantalising match-up on the Bayern left and Leverkusen right appears to be in store as two speed demons go head-to-head. Alphonso Davies has clocked the fastest groundspeed in the Bundesliga this season at 35.97 km/h (22.35 mph) but Jeremie Frimpong is not far behind in fourth (35.77 km/h / 22.22 mph).

Both are nominally full-backs but play as auxiliary wingers in reality, charging up and down the flank to provide width.

Frimpong appears to have the advantage on paper having provided more goal involvements (two goals, to Davies’ one assist), completed more sprints (210 to 183), supplied more crosses (10 to three) and won more challenges (87 to 76) in a similar amount of time on the pitch (569 minutes to 534).

Yet Davies thrives on the big occasion, so will the Bayern road-runner – as Müller dubbed him a couple of years ago - steamroller his next opponent or will they cancel each other out in a comic book dust cloud?

In Frimpong (l.) and Davies (r.), two of the Bundesliga's top four fastest players go head-to-head on the same wing on Matchday 8. - CHRISTOF STACHE/AFP via Getty Images

A case for the defence

Any talk of Bayern being off colour must be taken with a pinch of salt, of course. It is not uncommon for them to drop points at this time of year - we'll leave it up to you to decide if it is a coincidence the city’s Oktoberfest is held at the same time – but they have traditionally always found a way to bounce back.

And if goals have been hard to come by in their last four games, they remain solid at the back. Only Union Berlin, Freiburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach have conceded fewer than Bayern’s six goals, with Nagelsmann’s preferred back four largely set in stone.

Dayot Upamecano has played the full 90 minutes in every Bundesliga game so far, leaving Matthijs de Ligt and Lucas Hernandez to battle for the remaining place alongside him at centre-back. With Davies on the left, Benjamin Pavard was unplayable at right-back in the first few games of the season and should be fit again after the international break, having been rested on Matchday 7 due to a dead leg sustained the previous week.

Still, as settled a team as it is, results have shown they are not impenetrable. Defeat by Augsburg on Matchday 7 followed consecutive draws with Gladbach (1-1), Union (1-1) and VfB Stuttgart (2-2).

Edmond Tapsoba (c.) and Jonathan Tah (r.) are among the most robust centre-backs in the Bundesliga. - Credit DFL/Getty Images/Alexander Scheuber

If Leverkusen can get their aforementioned attack purring at the Allianz Arena then they could well extend Bayern’s winless sequence.

That is, of course, providing their own rearguard can withstand the hosts’ advances – something they have not managed in the teams’ last 10 league meetings. In Frimpong, Jonathan Tah, Edmond Tapsoba and Piero Hincapie they too have a settled back four - which is also able to transition seamlessly into a three if called upon - with the terrier-like Robert Andrich patrolling the midfield in front of them.

Die Werkself have only managed one Bundesliga clean sheet all season but showed their true colours in the UEFA Champions League when they kept out Spanish giants Atletico Madrid in a 2-0 victory earlier this month. They have the potential to mix it with the best. They just need to show it in Munich.