There’s a Super Sunday on Bundesliga Matchday 10 as the top four all face off with just four points separating them. It starts as league leaders Union Berlin host fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund, before champions Bayern Munich in third welcome second-placed Freiburg. Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS analyses where these top-four tussles could be won or lost…
The big surprise after nine matchdays isn’t necessarily that 10-time defending champions Bayern aren’t top, but that Union are. The Berliners’ fifth-placed finish last season was the highest they’d ever ended up in either the German or East German pyramid, so not even the most ardent of Eisernen supporters really would’ve believed they would be at the summit this year.
Nor would they or anybody else have predicted that their closest challengers would in fact be Freiburg. The teams that finished 2021/22 in fifth and sixth come into Matchday 10 four and three points respectively above last season’s top two, Bayern and Dortmund. It means that even if the big boys get a result, there will still be no unseating Union at the head of the table yet. And if the results go the way the standings suggest, the Berliners could move as many as seven points clear of the only two teams to lift the Meisterschale since 2010.
Watch: Dortmund held Bayern in Der Klassiker last week
More chances for BVB, but more goals for Union
Kicking off at 5.30pm CEST, the onus is therefore first on Dortmund as they go to the fortress that is the Stadion An der Alten Försterei. BVB have so far created several more promising chances in games this season than Union, with their Expected Goals value of 17.1 ranking third in the division. Die Eisernen sit 16th with an xG of only 9.7.
However, the Bundesliga leaders have been superbly clinical and boast the division’s best shot efficiency of +6.3 – that’s how many goals a team has scored compared to their xG. Conversely, Borussia are the most wasteful with a shot efficiency of -4.9.
Has one team been more fortunate than the other? That tends to balance itself out over the course of a season. But right now, Urs Fischer’s troops are producing far more than the chances they create suggests.
Watch: Clinical Union beat Stuttgart to stay top
And much of that is down to Sheraldo Becker. Only the league’s top scorer Niclas Füllkrug has had a direct hand in more goals (10) this term than the Suriname international (nine), who is also the most clinical player in the Bundesliga with a shot efficiency of +4.2.
Ball winner Bellingham, Sprinter and Finisher Becker
Jude Bellingham may have scored in all four UEFA Champions League games this season, but he’s yet to find the back of the net in the Bundesliga. In fact, his shot efficiency of -2.5 is the worst in the division. But that doesn’t detract from how brilliant he’s been in general for Borussia. He’s their only ever-present in 2022/23 and has become the focal point in the team. So much so that no player in the Bundesliga has been put under opposition pressure more times than the England international (194). He also ranks in the top 10 for Ball Winners alongside teammate Nico Schlotterbeck, who demonstrated his own skills up front last week with the cross for Anthony Modeste’s added-time equaliser against Bayern in Der Klassiker.
Watch: Bellingham – cool under pressure
However, Union also boast a man twice represented in the Skills Match Facts categories. That would be the aforementioned Becker, who ranks among the top 10 in Finisher and Sprinter. In fact, he’s the fastest player in the German top flight this season with a top speed of 36 km/h (22.4 mph).
He’s also developed an immediate partnership with summer signing Jordan. Union would be eight points and 10 places worse off without the pair’s goals. All three of the US international’s goals have been set up by Becker, accounting for all of the latter’s assists. In return, both of Jordan’s assists have been for Becker goals.
Shutting out that deadly and so clinical duo will be key for Dortmund in Berlin, while Die Eisernen know they will have to limit the chances their visitors create, perhaps applying even greater pressure on Bellingham in the centre of the park.
Watch: Deadly duo Jordan and Becker
Bayern expected to score, Ginter cool under pressure
Third takes on second in Munich just two hours after kick-off in the capital. It’s only the third time ever that Freiburg have gone into a meeting with Bayern ahead of them in the table. A first-ever victory away at the record champions could see the Black Forest club take to the summit if Union slip up earlier, while a home win will most likely see the Bavarians take second spot.
When it comes to creating chances, both these sides are among the best in the division. As is often the case, Bayern lead the way for xG at 21.2. Freiburg rank fifth there but aren’t too far behind on 16.6. However, the champions have proven themselves more unerring in front of the target, with a league-topping 25 goals meaning that have put away 3.8 more than the stats expect. And that’s despite the fact they’ve had 62 shots more than any other team and went through a spell of relative wastefulness over several draws. Freiburg, meanwhile, are below where they should be with only 14 goals (-2.6).
Watch: Strikers Sadio Mane and Michael Gregoritsch head-to-head
Pressing is now an intrinsic part of the game and is something both teams have proven they are highly adept at dealing with. Jamal Musiala is second only to Bellingham across the league for the number of times he’s been pressurised by opponents (191). Getting him on the ball is essential for Bayern as he attracts several defenders and creates space for teammates. Julian Nagelsmann – who is second only to opposite number Christian Streich among current coaches in the division for Bundesliga games on the touchline – will be desperate to have the teenager available in time for the game.
Ritsu Doan is Freiburg’s most pressed player (138 times), but central defender Matthias Ginter – an experienced senior Germany international whose summer return has helped take Die Breisgauer to another level – is particularly composed under pressure. He boasts an Escape Rate of 80 per cent, meaning he retains possession for his team or manages a shot in four out of five situations where he’s pressured by the opposition. He ranks third in the league in that regard, followed closely by Bayern’s own summer centre-back addition, Matthijs de Ligt (79 per cent escape rate).
Watch: Jamal Musiala – one of the Bundesliga’s best
Bayern passing machine against Freiburg’s set-piece specialists
The hosts will have most of the ball at the Allianz Arena, and Freiburg will generally be content to let them have it as long as it’s in less dangerous areas. Bayern have seen the most possession of any team this season (61 per cent) and are also by far the cleanest distributors of the ball with a pass efficiency of +109.2. That is the number of passes that have reached a teammate compared to the number of statistically expected completed passes. Freiburg are in mid-table in that regard with +21.8.
Unsurprisingly, it’s Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich who leads the Bundesliga for accurate passing (+26.3). There are actually six Munich players with a better return than Freiburg’s most efficient passer, Jeong Woo-yeong (+4.8) - himself a former Bayern man.
Yet Streich’s side have proven they don’t need to be the best passers to get results. No team in the Bundesliga has scored more goals from set pieces than Freiburg, with six out of their 14 strikes a result of dead balls.
Watch: Freiburg got another goal from a set piece to draw at Hertha Berlin
They possess two excellent set-piece takers in the right-footed Vincenzo Grifo and leftie Christian Günter, who have made Freiburg the division’s most dangerous team from free-kicks, boasting a threat of 113 per cent above the league average. They are also no mugs at corners, where their threat is 28 per cent over the average. Bayern are slightly more dangerous at corners (+43 per cent), but nowhere near the level of threat at free-kicks (+17 per cent).
A rare victory over Bayern – and first in Munich – would be the ultimate symbol of Freiburg’s remarkable rise to this point. On the league’s best unbeaten run of seven games and yet to lose on the road at all in 2022/23, the stats suggest they can hurt the champions in their own backyard. They could go top if they do so, but Bayern won’t take that lying down. We’ve often seen them put on a show of strength when challenged. It’ll all unfold over an unmissable Super Sunday.
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