- Bayern and Leipzig, first and second, go head-to-head in Munich on Wedesday.
- Two teams level on 36 points.
- Leipzig competing in the Bundesliga for the first time.
Where might the game be won or lost? bundesliga.com takes a closer look with a tactical breakdown of what promises to be one of the games of the season so far…
Bayern and Leipzig both installed new coaches in the summer, with Carlo Ancelotti replacing Pep Guardiola in Bavaria and Ralph Hasenhüttl taking the reins at the Red Bull Arena. However, where Ancelotti was trying to forge a new identity for the four-time defending champions, Leipzig’s style has remained unchanged or most of the past two seasons, thanks in no small part to last year’s coach Ralf Rangnick moving upstairs into the role of sporting director. Seven Leipzig players have featured in all 15 of their Bundesliga games so far. Only Manuel Neuer and Robert Lewandowski can say the same for Bayern, with Ancelotti still trying to decide what his best possible XI is
Between them, Leipzig duo Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg have combined for 14 goals and 10 assists this term. Clinical finishing has been a major characteristic of their respective hauls, but so has searing pace. Bayern like to dominate possession – they completed 713 passes to SV Darmstadt 98’s 115 in their 1-0 win on Sunday – but that tends to bring their defensive line high up the pitch. With Jerome Boateng injured and Joshua Kimmich thriving in midfield, Ancelotti is expected to start with Mats Hummels and Javi Martinez at centre-back. Both are world champions, but speed is not their forte. Werner and Forsberg could be licking their lips at their counter-attacking opportunities.
Of course, any Leipzig counter-attack would depend on them winning the ball back in midfield, and Bayern’s Spanish stars Thiago Alcantara and Xabi Alonso are loathe to give up possession. Two of the game’s pre-eminent proponents of tiki-taka, Ancelotti will be optimistic of his team drowning out even the nascent talent of Naby Keita. Alonso broke the record for touches in a single Bundesliga game, tallying 204, when Bayern beat 1. FC Köln in September 2014, while Thiago has outstripped his compatriot this term with a league-leading total of 1,609. Leipzig are chasing records in their maiden Bundesliga campaign, but if they’re not careful on Wednesday, they could find themselves chasing shadows instead.
Willi Orban and Marvin Compper have managed to keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Anthony Modeste - two of the leading candidates for this year's European Golden Shoe - from scoring against them this season, but whether they can do the same to Robert Lewandowski is another matter. Orban and Compper interchange the role of stopper and sweeper depending on the source of the attack, but Lewandowski thrives on finding gaps between defenders rather than the raw physicality that serves the Borussia Dortmund and 1. FC Köln attackers so well. Leipzig are the only Bundesliga team the Poland captain is yet to score against. Could that be about to change?