Bayern Munich vs. RB Leipzig: How do they stack up?
Bayern Munich have a first chance to secure their 11th straight Bundesliga title on Saturday as they host RB Leipzig in a mouthwatering clash at the Allianz Arena.
If Thomas Tuchel's side claim victory and Borussia Dortmund fail to get the better of Augsburg on Sunday, the Meisterschale will be staying in Munich – with BVB's inferior goal difference meaning they cannot afford to draw this weekend. Marco Rose's men will have plenty to play for at the Allianz, though, knowing a win will guarantee them a place in the UEFA Champions League for the fifth season running.
Ahead of a game that could potentially decide the outcome of what's been a thrilling title race, bundesliga.com has crunched the numbers, compared the form books and taken a closer look at both teams' strengths and weaknesses…
Watch: Title race going down to the wire
Bayern's biggest win under Tuchel – and indeed, his biggest-ever win as a Bundesliga coach – could not have been better timed. The record champions were at their sizzling best last week as they thumped a hapless Schalke 6-0, with five players – including top scorer Serge Gnabry – getting on the scoresheet. A perfect confidence booster for the Bavarians, who have now won three consecutive Bundesliga games for the first time since early March.
It certainly hasn't all been plain sailing this season. With two games to go, Bayern actually boast their lowest Bundesliga points total (68) since 2011/12, which was the last time they didn't lift the title. Before their current winning run, the leaders had drawn with Hoffenheim, been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League by Manchester City and lost 3-1 in Mainz, which dropped them to second until Dortmund slipped up in Bochum the following Friday.
The manner of the Schalke win will have raised spirits at Bayern's Säbener Straße training ground this week, even if Leipzig will provide a much sterner test than the Royal Blues. It was the first victory under Tuchel by more than a two-goal margin and sent a clear message to BVB: we have no intention of being knocked off our perch.
Watch: Bayern thrashed Schalke last week
When Rose took over as Leipzig coach in September, his new charges were 11th in the table, and though the season was only five matchdays old they were already seven points off the pace. A 3-0 win over Dortmund sparked the renaissance and Die Roten Bullen were soon charging up the standings, going 12 games unbeaten between October and February to get firmly back into the title conversation.
A run of three defeats in four – to BVB, Bochum and Mainz – meant they had to downsize their ambitions and target another Champions League campaign, having also been ousted from this year's competition by City. But another win over Dortmund, this time in the DFB Cup quarter-finals, got them firing on all cylinders again before the run-in.
Leipzig travel to Munich having won seven of their last eight matches in all competitions, with a 2-0 reverse to Bayer Leverkusen the only blot on their copybook since early April. Most of their victories have been hard-fought, too; their last five in the Bundesliga have all been by a one-goal margin. They reached the DFB Cup final in style though, thrashing Freiburg 5-1, and will defend their crown against Eintracht Frankfurt on 3 June.
Watch: Leipzig edged closer to top four with late win over Werder Bremen
Style of play
There are definite parallels in the playing styles of these two teams, who like to have control of the ball. Bayern boast the highest average possession in the Bundesliga this season with 61 per cent, followed by Leipzig on 57 per cent. The duo are also on top when it comes to passes played, with Bayern completing the most in the division (88.5 per cent), followed by Dortmund (86 per cent) and Leipzig (85.7 per cent).
Both sides have shown a tendency to attack through the middle this season, rather than using the width of the pitch – with first-rate technical qualities allowing their players to combine in small pockets of space. Consequently, they have notched an almost identical proportion of their Bundesliga goals down the centre: 68 per cent for Leipzig (39/57) and 67 per cent for Bayern (60/89). The division-wide average is 54 per cent.
One area where Bayern clearly have the upper hand is scoring goals. The Bavarians have gleefully chalked up 89 in 32 appearances, meaning they have averaged a goal per game more than Leipzig throughout the campaign, and are set to finish with the league's best attack for the seventh time in a row. They have found the back of the net in all but one of their last 113 top-flight outings – this season's 1-0 loss in Augsburg – and haven't failed to score at home since a goalless draw with Leipzig back in February 2020.
Usually deployed in a 4-2-3-1 – or occasionally in a 4-1-4-1 with Joshua Kimmich sitting in front of the defence – Bayern have dangermen everywhere. No fewer than 16 of their players have scored in the league this season, with three into double figures: Gnabry (13), Jamal Musiala (11) and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (10). Noussair Mazraoui even got his very first goal for the club when he swept in a late sixth against Schalke last week.
Watch: Serge Gnabry vs. Christopher Nkunku
Leipzig actually count more Bundesliga goalscorers in their ranks this term with 18, although only six of them have netted more than twice. Christopher Nkunku leads the way on 13, followed by Timo Werner on nine and Emil Forsberg on six. Their default formation in 2022/23 has been a 4-4-2, although Rose has experimented with a three-man defence in recent weeks, enabling marauding wing-backs Benjamin Henrichs and David Raum to play higher up the pitch. Tactical flexibility is a hallmark of both coaches.
Set pieces are also one of Leipzig's strengths. They have scored 15 goals from dead-ball situations in this season's Bundesliga, putting them third in the charts. And Bayern just happen to have conceded over a third of their league goals from set pieces (13/34) – meaning Saturday's free-kicks and corners could have added significance.
Defensively, there is little to choose between the two teams. Leipzig have let in 38 league goals – four more than Bayern, who share the Bundesliga's best defence with Union Berlin. Bayern keeper Yann Sommer has made more saves (78) than his Leipzig counterpart Janis Blaswich (45), but they have a similar number of clean sheets – eight for the Switzerland international and seven for the German.
Saturday will mark the first meeting between Tuchel and Rose as coaches, but they go back a long way, having spent several years together at Mainz over a decade ago. When Tuchel was appointed head coach at the start of 2009/10, Rose – who was still playing for the 05ers, but sidelined by injury – acted as his assistant for the first two games. He was soon replaced by Arno Michels (who remains Tuchel's assistant to this day), but went on to spend two years as assistant coach to the Mainz reserves after hanging up his boots in 2010.
The Leipzig native has certainly made a mark since returning to his hometown earlier this season, after previous spells in the Bundesliga with Borussia Mönchengladbach (2019-21) and Dortmund (2021-22). He has picked up 55 points in his 27 league outings in charge, which is the same as BVB and only two fewer than Bayern over the same period. He is currently averaging more points per game (two) than his predecessors Ralf Rangnick and Julian Nagelsmann (both 1.9).
Having won two league titles and the Austrian Cup with Salzburg, Rose now has an opportunity to claim his first piece of silverware in Germany. The 46-year-old could round out what has already been an impressive first campaign on a very high note indeed if he helps Leipzig win their second straight DFB Cup and finish in the top four of the Bundesliga.
Tuchel only has one prize in mind as the Bundesliga enters its endgame. The 49-year-old has claimed some of the biggest titles in football, including the Champions League, but he has yet to celebrate winning the Meisterschale. The former Mainz, Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea tactician was brought to Bavaria to keep furnishing an already well-stocked trophy cabinet, and he will have no intention of ending this season empty-handed.
His reign could hardly have got off to a better start on 1 April, as Bayern bamboozled BVB in Der Klassiker to reclaim top spot. But for a serial winner like Tuchel, the subsequent quarter-final losses to Freiburg in the DFB Cup and Manchester City in the Champions League were not part of the script. Another 3-1 loss at his old club Mainz threatened to derail their Bundesliga title bid as well, but Germany's most successful club once again have their destiny in their own hands, and a coach who will do his utmost to get them over the line.
The head-to-head record in this heavyweight rivalry doesn't make for pleasant reading if you happen to be of a Leipzig (or Dortmund) persuasion. Since the Saxony club burst onto the Bundesliga scene in 2016/17 – starting life in the top flight with a 13-game unbeaten streak – Bayern have seemed determined show them exactly who's boss at the top of the German football pyramid.
The very first meeting in December 2016 was billed as a clash between the Bundesliga's historic powerhouses and the feisty upstarts hoping to usurp their throne, but it turned out to be a one-sided affair, with Thiago, now Leverkusen boss Xabi Alonso and Robert Lewandowski scoring first-half goals in a comfortable 3-0 win. Leipzig thought they had their revenge later that season, leading 3-1 and 4-2 on home soil, but Bayern struck three times in the closing stages to win a barnstorming encounter 5-4.
Watch: Remembering the 5-4 thriller between Bayern and Leipzig
In a total of 16 meetings in all competitions, Bayern have won on 10 occasions, with five draws and just a solitary success for Leipzig. That came in the Bundesliga in March 2018, when the record champions were already 20 points clear at the top of the table and had played Besiktas in the Champions League four days earlier. The loss did little to halt their momentum – a fortnight later, in their next outing, they battered Dortmund 6-0.
Bayern's wins over Leipzig include the 2019 DFB Cup final and the 2022 Supercup, another goalfest that ended 5-3. The Bavarians had actually won four in a row against their Saxony rivals before this season's reverse fixture, in January, which was a much tighter affair. Choupo-Moting gave Nagelsmann's visitors the lead in the first game after the World Cup, but Marcel Halstenberg earned the hosts a deserved point as it finished 1-1.
On paper, then, Bayern go into this all-important match as favourites – especially when you throw in the fact that they haven't lost at home in the Bundesliga since January 2022. But against an in-form Leipzig side who may need points in their quest for Champions League football, in a match-up of two talented coaches facing each other for the first time, and in a title race that has had no shortage of twists and turns, anything is possible. Just make sure you don't have any plans on Saturday evening.
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