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Bayer Leverkusen are setting the pace at the top of the Bundesliga heading into Matchday 9. - © DFL
Bayer Leverkusen are setting the pace at the top of the Bundesliga heading into Matchday 9. - © DFL

Bundesliga 2023/24 title race: Bayer Leverkusen lead Bayern Munich and Co.


After a captivating start to the campaign, the table is now taking shape. bundesliga.com runs you through the season’s early title runners and riders, who will all be looking to keep themselves in the mix as the battle for the Bundesliga crown heats up…

Bayer Leverkusen
Games played: 11
Goals: 34-10 (+20)

Following a strong transfer window, which included the arrivals of Granit Xhaka, Victor Boniface and Jonas Hofmann, Leverkusen were tipped for a strong campaign, but few would have predicted this sparkling run of form. A record start to the season – going unbeaten in their first 10 matches, winning nine and drawing one, and netting a sensational 30 goals in the process – has seen them hold their own in top spot. They have led the Bundesliga after nine of the 11 matchdays so far.

Die Werkself kicked off with a 3-2 win over RB Leipzig and haven’t looked back since. Boniface, in particular, has hit the ground running, netting seven goals so far, while Florian Wirtz, Alejandro Grimaldo and Hofmann have also chipped in with telling contributions. Xabi Alonso's free-flowing philosophy is having a big impact – no team has landed more of their attempted passes than Leverkusen’s 89.9% - and the 2-2 draw with Bayern Munich during Matchday 4 was another boost for their title credentials. That, remarkably, is the only game they haven't won in all competitions this term, and their 4-0 victory over Union on Matchday 11 saw them match Bayern's 2015/16 record of 31 points after 11 games.

Watch: Leverkusen's resurgence under Alonso

Bayern Munich
Games played: 11
Goals: 42-10 (+31)

Coming into this campaign on the back of an 11th successive Meisterschale, Bayern's Bundesliga objective is the same as always. Arguments that they were failing to hit top gear have gone quieter as they have racked up result after result. Nine wins and two draws have put them second in the table, two points adrift of top spot, and they are scoring goals at an alarming rate - no side has ever managed as many strikes after 11 matchdays.

Star signing Harry Kane already has three hat-tricks to his name, including one in the comprehensive 4-0 Klassiker victory over Borussia Dortmund, and his brace versus Heidenheim in a 4-2 win took his season tally to 17 Bundesliga strikes - a record high after 11 fixtures. Leroy Sané has been another key cog in the Bayern goal machine, popping up with eight strikes of his own. 2-2 draws against Leverkusen and Leipzig are the only domestic blemishes but, considering the quality both those sides possess, avoiding defeat marks a solid platform for another title charge.

Watch: Bayern comfortable winners in Der Klassiker

VfB Stuttgart
Games played: 11
Goals: 29-14 (+15)

Sebastian Hoeneß’s Stuttgart have been a huge surprise package - defying the departures of key players Wataru Endo, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Borna Sosa. They currently sit third and have struck 29 times, while their five clean sheets is already two more than they managed in the entirety of last season. Incredibly, only Bayern and Leverkusen have found the back of the net more frequently. That haul was boosted by commanding 5-0 victories against both Bochum and Freiburg.

Striker Serhou Guirassy has been the star of the show, scoring a staggering 14 goals in his first eight matches of the season to blast his way past a Robert Lewandowski Bundesliga record, while Chris Führich has provided vision and creativity, racking up five assists to go with his three goals. Two games without Guirassy saw Stuttgart a little, but the Guinea international netted on his return as Stuttgart defeated Dortmund 2-1, which may well prove to be a statement victory.

Watch: Stuttgart hammer Freiburg

RB Leipzig
Games played: 11
Goals: 28-10 (+18)

As in previous summers, Leipzig sold several leading stars over the summer in Christopher Nkunku, Josko Gvardiol and Dominik Szoboszlai, while Konrad Laimer joined rivals Bayern on a free transfer. Die Roten Bullen, though, have a knack for spotting the latest up-and-coming talent, and new arrivals Loïs Openda, Xavi Simons, Castello Lukeba and Benjamin Šeško have slotted in seamlessly.

The 3-0 Supercup victory over Bayern was a statement of intent and, although they followed that up with the loss to Leverkusen, they have started the season strongly. In Xavi, Leipzig have picked up a real gem, as his three goals and league-leading six assists suggest, and he will be crucial if his side are to challenge for the title once more. The wins have often been convincing – they dispatched Stuttgart 5-1, for example – while they showed yet again in the 2-2 draw with Bayern on Matchday 6 that they can go toe-to-toe with the champions. Leipzig recovered from a frustrating 0-0 home draw with Bochum in which two penalties were missed to take a convincing 3-1 win in Darmstadt. Following up a 6-0 hammering of Cologne with a 2-0 defeat to rock-bottom Mainz suggested inconsistency was creeping in. However, a Xavi-inspired 3-1 Matchday 11 victory against Freiburg could well prove a pivotal point in Leipzig's season. 

Watch: Leipzig blow away Stuttgart

Borussia Dortmund
Games played: 11
Goals: 21-17 (+4)

After narrowly missing out on last season's title in dramatic fashion, Dortmund have had a mixed start to the campaign. Failing to beat Heidenheim despite leading 2-0 after 15 minutes was a disappointment, but subsequent victories over Freiburg, Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim showed they can still rack up points. The workmanlike 1-0 victory over Werder Bremen just might have sent a few people reaching for the old adage of it being wins like that which make champions.

Julian Brandt has been a shining light early on, with his late equaliser against Eintracht Frankfurt his fourth goal to go with his four assists, while Marco Reus and Donyell Malen have also both chipped in with three important goals apiece. A loss against Bayern on Matchday 10 ended a run of 17 matches with defeat in the top flight, as well as BVB's momentum, and they were beaten 2-1 at Stuttgart in their next league outing. They cannot afford many more setbacks if they are to end the season on top of the pile.

Watch: The best of Brandt in 2023/24

Click here for the full Bundesliga standings!