- Hertha in town determined to test Leipzig resolve.
- Hasenhüttl's team seek to bounce back from Bundesliga defeat.
- Leipzig's Hinrunde run-in climaxes with visit to Bayern.
All eyes are on RB Leipzig as the footballing world wonders if the wounds inflicted on Ralph Hasenhüttl’s team following a first Bundesliga reverse will prove merely superficial ahead of two very significant tests prior to the winter break.
Understandably downcast after registering their first Bundesliga reverse in the club's history, RB Leipzig's players and coaching staff have since been busy mending morale ahead of a monumental week for the team from Germany's former East.
Watch: Ingolstadt humble Leipzig on Matchday 14:
A sensational, record-breaking start to their debut campaign in the top-flight brought Ralph Hasenhüttl's swashbuckling, hard-pressing outfit acclaim from across the continent. Yet the fiercely competitive Bundesliga can be brutal and after an unlikely loss against relegation-threatened FC Ingolstadt 04 last weekend, Leipzig's eight-game winning run ended and their top-flight lead was snatched by a ravenous FC Bayern München.
"It was clear that we'd have a game like this one day, but it won't knock us back; we can handle it," Hasenhüttl said of the defeat against the side he previously coached. "We'll see a response on the pitch next time," the tactician added. Midfielder Diego Demme agreed, calling for a, "Defiant reaction," against Hertha Berlin – currently the Bundesliga's third-placed team – on Saturday.
Now sandwiched between Hertha and Bayern in the standings, Leipzig play both their nearest challengers in what promises to be an absorbing climax to the Hinrunde – or the first half of the championship. The Saxony-based side may have lost their unbeaten status in the Bundesliga but they are undefeated at their Red Bull Arena home, winning the last four games at the always-passionate venue. The arrival of Pal Dardai’s team from the capital this weekend will have fans both salivating at the prospect of a footballing treat and curious to see if Leipzig’s last loss was simply a solitary slip-up.
Hasenhüttl and Co. then conclude ahead of the winter break against Carlo Ancelotti's Bavarian brigade, Bayern, who are brimming with belief that they are back where they belong at the Bundesliga's summit. "We're top of the table and that's great ahead of our Christmas party," a gleeful Thomas Müller toasted. “We've played some good football in our last few games. We want to continue in the same vein in our last two matches of the Hinrunde and be top at Christmas," the forward – who ended a run of 999 minutes without a goal by scoring in Bayern’s 5-0 win against Wolfsburg last weekend – said.
Watch: Thomas Müller gets back on target for Bayern:
Bayern endured an absence of just three weeks off the top of the domestic rankings and three consecutive wins means the champions edge Leipzig on goal difference ahead of a visit to SV Darmstadt 98 on Sunday. "In the last few years, we were always at the top during the winter break,” captain Philipp Lahm said. “It's a nice feeling, but it isn't over yet. We have two crucial games ahead of us."
The battle for the Herbstmeisterschaft – or Autumn championship – is on, with high-flying Hertha eager to have their say and both Bayern and Leipzig keen to keep each other at bay.