BERLIN, Germany– After
getting a mid-week “wake-up call” in the German Cup, Bundesliga
leaders Bayern Munich are relishing the chance to prove their might in a
top-of-the-table clash at home to RB Leipzig on Sunday.
Bayern’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic insists the
defending champions want to show nearest rivals Leipzig “who is the
boss” at Munich’s Allianz Area.
Salihamidzic said the hosts are embracing “the role of
favourites”, adding that Leipzig had been “weakened a bit” by
Bayern swept to the top of the table last weekend for the
first time since October and have won their last eight games.
However, Hoffenheim found plenty of space to attack in
Wednesday’s German Cup third-round tie as Bayern conceded two goals in the
final 10 minutes as a comfortable 4-1 lead became a nervy 4-3 victory.
“Perhaps it’s quite good to realise before the Leipzig
game, that things won’t simply work of their own accord,” admitted Bayern
midfielder Joshua Kimmich.
Head coach Hansi Flick called the narrow win a “wake-up
Leipzig, who spent more than a month over Christmas top of
the table, have had cold water poured on their title aspirations in recent
A shock 2-0 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt a fortnight ago cost
them a four-point lead. Then Bayern went a point ahead at the top after
Leipzig’s 2-2 draw at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach last Saturday.
Another loss at Frankfurt in mid-week, when top-scoring
striker Timo Werner and playmaker Emil Forsberg both started on the bench, saw
Leipzig dumped them out of the German Cup.
“Leipzig will want to show a reaction,” Kimmich
Sunday’s clash will also see the league’s leading scorer
Robert Lewandowski, who has 22 goals in 20 games, go head-to-head with his
nearest rival Werner, who is on 20.
Before Bayern and Leipzig slug it out, third-placed Borussia
Dortmund could go top on Saturday with a win at Bayer Leverkusen.
Erling Braut Haaland, 19, has a record eight goals in his
first four games for Dortmund, who were knocked out of the German Cup in
midweek when they went down 3-2 at Werder Bremen.
Sports director Michael Zorc slammed the team for playing
“listlessly, comfortably and slowly”.
Haaland has yet to play a full 90 minutes for Dortmund as he
works his way back to full fitness after a knee injury in December.
One to watch: Thomas Mueller
Lewandowski is making the headlines with 35 goals in 29
games after scoring two more in Wednesday’s cup win against Hoffenheim.
However, a big factor is the space and chances being created
behind him by Mueller, who has seven goals and nine assists in the 14 games
since Flick replaced Niko Kovac as head coach in November.
Mueller’s form has sparked debate in Germany over whether
head coach Joachim Loew should recall the player for Euro 2020 despite telling
the 30-year-old last March that his international career is over.
180 – The minutes Haaland has needed to score eight goals in
four games for Dortmund.
22 – The goals Lewandowski has scored in 22 league games.
Only Gerd Mueller, in the 1972/73 season, has ever scored as many goals in the
same number of games.
17 – The age of Dortmund midfielder Giovanni Reyna, who
scored his first goal for the club in Tuesday’s cup defeat at Bremen when he
beat two defenders and curled his shot into the top corner.
44 – The goals Lewandowski and Mueller have scored between
them for Bayern in all competitions this season.
Fixtures (all times
1430 GMT unless stated)
Eintracht Frankfurt v Augsburg (1930)
Wolfsburg v Fortuna Duesseldorf, Werder Bremen v Union
Berlin, Hertha Berlin v Mainz, Freiburg v Hoffenheim, Schalke v Paderborn,
Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Dortmund (1730)
Borussia Moenchengladbach v Cologne, Bayern Munich v RB