Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig go head-to-head in a Bundesliga title six-pointer on Sunday, but where will the clash between the champions and the pretenders to their throne be won and lost?
bundesliga.com trains its tactical lens on what promises to be a thrilling encounter at the Allianz Arena…
Watch: A closer look at the two coaches in question
1) Lewangoalski unbound without Konate Kryptonite
The two top scorers in the division will be on display on Sunday, Bayern goal-machine Robert Lewandowski leading the way on 22 goals with Leipzig's Timo Werner just two behind. They are the first two players since Franz Brungs and Johannes Lohr in 1967/68 to have cracked at least 20 goals after 20 league games.
Lewandowski has scored in each of his last three Bundesliga outings, however, whereas the turbo-charged Werner is enduring a drought - by his standards - of two games without a goal, and it is perhaps safer to assume that we will see Lewy punching the air ahead of his Leipzig counterpart at the Allianz…
…not least due to the fact that Ibrahima Konate is missing. In the three top-flight meetings Lewandowski had with Leipzig before Konate's arrival at the Red Bull Arena, the Pole scored four goals at a rate of one every 56 minutes. They have faced off for three 90-minute sessions in the league since, with Lewandowski's ratio dropping down to one every 270 minutes.
Leipzig are enduring something of a defensive injury crisis with captain Willi Orban missing and Dayot Upamecano playing through the pain barrier, but it is Konate's absence which the visitors are likely to feel most keenly, the young Frenchman's height, speed, bravery and decision-making having given Lewy a torrid time of it in recent seasons.
2) Werner's pace vs. Bayern's own makeshift defence
That's not to say that writing Werner off on Sunday would be wise. The Germany attacker has enjoyed a new lease of life under Julian Nagelsmann, playing in a slightly more withdrawn role than in recent seasons, dropping between the opposition's right-back and centre-back and wreaking havoc with his pace.
Bayern, meanwhile, have had to put together a patchwork defence of their own. With Lucas Hernandez and Niklas Süle long-term absentees, David Alaba has been reconstituted as an emergency central defender, with nominal left-winger Alphonso Davies dropping to his left. Of late, Jerome Boateng and Benjamin Pavard have been completing Hansi Flick's back four on the other side.
Yes, it has worked: Bayern have only conceded one league goal since the turn of the year lining up with Pavard-Boateng-Alaba-Davies from right to left, but the reduction in available players leaves Flick with little flexibility. The left-footed Davies is the player most capable of keeping up with Werner, but the chances of Flick inverting his full-backs to deal with the Leipzig attacker are slim to none.
Watch: How Werner has been getting his goals this season
3) Leipzig on the midfield merry-go-round?
That's assuming Leipzig can get the ball to Werner in the first place. Bayern have completed a league-best 89 per cent of their passes so far this season, and while Leipzig are not too far behind - fourth on 85 per cent - a closer look at their respective midfields suggest Bayern could find themselves in the ascendancy.
Some observers might prefer to see Joshua Kimmich restored to right-back, his shift into midfield reportedly driven by the player himself as much as the club. But he has done a stunning job in his new role, enjoying a league-high 1,885 touches, coming in at an average of 99 per game. Midfield colleague Thiago Alcantara is not too far behind, having had 1,340 touches at an almost identical rate. The pair have also completed 91 per cent of their passes. Only Borussia Dortmund's Axel Witsel, with 95 per cent, has fared better among Bundesliga midfielders in this regard.
Leipzig's highest scorer on both fronts was Diego Demme - 1,247 touches at a rate of 93 per game and a pass completion of 88 per cent - but the one-time Germany international was sold to Napoli over the winter break, and Kevin Kampl, their most stylistically similar player, is sidelined with an ankle injury.
Konrad Laimer and Tyler Adams are more than able replacements, but their combination of pace and power might be futile against Bayern's midfield magicians. Nobody can run faster than the ball can travel after all.
4) Bayern frailty to Leipzig set pieces?
With Lewandowski, Thiago and Alaba all likely to start, Bayern will have three of the deadliest free-kick takers in the division in their ranks, or so you might think. With Bayern likely to dominate possession, Leipzig might have to depend on set plays, and the stats would seem to suggest that Nagelsmann's side actually have an advantage here.
Leipzig have scored a league-high 12 goals from set pieces this season, 10 more than Bayern have managed this term. The champions may not be conceding many, but the last goal Manuel Neuer had to pick out of his net was a Jerry St. Juste header from a corner in the 3-1 win last Saturday, while memories of Ramy Bensebaini's headed equaliser the last time Bayern played a title six-pointer - ultimately losing 2-1 to Borussia Mönchengladbach in December - remain fresh.
Watch: Highlights of Bayern's 3-1 win over Mainz
Alaba has been one of the best left-backs in the world for years, and his ability to orchestrate from the middle, coaching Davies on the fly, has been impressive. But as multi-talented as Alaba is, he remains 5'9"-tall, and a Leipzig ball into the box for Patrik Schick or perhaps Yussuf Poulsen - both comfortably clear of 6' - could spell trouble for the hosts.
Leipzig have never won in Munich, and Bayern remain the betting favourites, but both teams have keys to victory on Sunday. Who will unlock the game first will be fascinating to watch.