Leipzig's Willi Orban will be taking no prisoners against Robert Lewandowski and Co. on Matchday 33. - © © imago
Leipzig's Willi Orban will be taking no prisoners against Robert Lewandowski and Co. on Matchday 33. - © © imago

RB Leipzig vs. Bayern Munich: The 5 key battles that could decide the table-topping clash


The Red Bull Arena is the place to be this weekend as runners-up-in-waiting RB Leipzig play host to champions Bayern Munich in a game chock-full of A-grade talent.

Demme vs. Müller

bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the defensive rocks, assist kings and goal machines that could decide matters on Saturday afternoon.

Fine-tune your Official Fantasy Bundesliga team ahead of the penultimate weekend here!

In many ways, Diego Demme is the unsung hero of Leipzig's head-turning debut season in the Bundesliga. The 25-year-old holding player has started all but two of RB's top-flight assignments to date, underlining his irreplaceable enforcer status by regularly hitting double figures in the tackles won department and providing the steely foundation on which Leipzig's flair boys have flourished. 

Demme's no-nonsense approach will demand the best out of Bayern's attacking ranks, but his relative inexperience at the highest level could play into the super-stealthy Thomas Müller's hands. Even though it has not been a vintage season by the Bayern forward's gold standards, he has still managed to weigh in with an impressive 11 assists - over half of which have come in 2017.

Watch: Highlights of Bayern's one-sided win over Leipzig on Matchday 16

Keita vs. Thiago

Naby Keita has had a direct hand in 15 of Leipzig's 60 goals - compared to Müller's 16 for Bayern - but there can be no doubt whose star has shone brightest over the course of the campaign. The embodiment of turbo-charged Leipzig's high-octane brand of football, Keita - with his unrivalled industry and trademark slalom runs - is right up there with the best box-to-box midfielders in the business.

Top of that particular list, however, has to be the mesmeric Thiago Alcantara. Injury free and with license to roam, the Spain international has flourished on Carlo Ancelotti's watch, chipping in with five goals and as many assists. He has an uncanny knack of deciding matches with his eyes closed, and was instrumental as Bayern cakewalked to a 3-0 victory when the two sides met in Munich on Matchday 16.

Watch: Thiago's Bundesliga best bits

Forsberg vs. Lahm

The game - and the title race for that matter - might have panned out rather differently had Emil Forsberg not picked up a straight red card 31 minutes into that chastening defeat at the Allianz Arena. The Swede missed three games immediately thereafter, but did not take long to rediscover his defence-splitting groove. A master of floating in unchecked from the flanks, he also has a season-high 16 Bundesliga assists to his coveted name.

Curiously enough, it was Bayern captain Philipp Lahm who had his ankles rashly clipped by Forsberg in the aforementioned top-of-the-table clash. The contest otherwise passed without incident for the 33-year-old, who heads to Leipzig for the first, and last, time as a player this weekend. The soon-to-be-retired veteran's line-hugging runs are a key facet in Bayern's attacking play - can Forsberg keep him in check?

Watch: Emil Forsberg on Leipzig's "unbelievable year"

Werner vs. Hummels

Timo Werner has been one of the chief beneficiaries of Forsberg's invention in this his fourth full season of Bundesliga football. The 21-year-old has been nothing short of a revelation in front of goal since swapping relegated boyhood club Stuttgart for the ambitious lights of Leipzig in the summer, striking 19 times in 30 appearances - the highest tally by a German national in the Bundesliga this term.

It's a big test for Mats Hummels, but one which the travelling fans can expect the Germany international to pass with flying colours. Not much gets past the combative 28-year-old - Bayern have shipped just 15 Bundesliga goals with the ex-Borussia Dortmund man in the side - while his 89 per cent pass completion rate must have former coach Pep Guardiola wondering why the Red machine didn't re-sign the Bayern youth product sooner.

Watch: Is Mats Hummels your centre-back of the season?

Orban vs. Lewandowski

The fact Leipzig sit second on the list behind Bayern for fewest goals conceded speaks volumes for Hummels' opposite number, Willi Orban. Like the majority of the Leipzig contingent, the 24-year-old centre-back is enjoying his maiden season in Germany's top flight and has made the transition from the second tier to the big time look easy. An immovable object at one end, the Leipzig skipper also brings goals to the table at the other (three).

How Orban handles Robert Lewandowski is a fascinating prospect. Bayern's peerless No.9 has been making mincemeat out of the stingiest defences for the best part of six years now, and - with 28 goals so far this season - is well placed to defend his Torjägerkanone. The Pole became a Dad for the first time last week; what better way to wet the baby's head than with another goal or two against the 2016/17 Bundesliga champions' closest pursuers.

Chris Mayer-Lodge

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