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Bundesliga: Leipzig Show Their Mettle

Bayern Munich 0-0 RB Leipzig

It’s tight at the top in the Bundesliga, and while this eagerly anticipated top of the table clash may not quite have lived up to its billing, here was further proof that RB Leipzig may just be genuine challengers who can push champions Bayern Munich all the way this term.

In years gone by, would-be challengers have arrived at the Allianz Arena and struggled when it mattered most against the Bavarians.

Not so Leipzig so far in 2019/20.

They may have lost their place at the summit last weekend, but they remain intriguingly placed and well worth a closer look with the SBOTOP Bundesliga 2020 predictions.

 

Highlights of the game

Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig played an entertaining 0-0 draw in Bundesliga
                                                                 Bayern Munich’s Thomas Muller in action with RB Leipzig’s Marcel Halstenberg

This match had been billed by some as a showdown with prolific goalscorers Robert Lewandowski and Timo Werner going toe-to-toe. The defending champions were hosting their challengers to the throne – a factor which made the final result even more of a surprise.

Bayern have been in supreme form in 2020, scoring 16 goals in four matches in all competitions so far. They returned to the top of the table with a 3-1 win at Mainz last week and followed that up with a 4-3 victory over Hoffenheim in midweek to reach the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals.

Lewandowski scored twice in that game, meaning that the Pole has 35 across all competitions for the season. With him spearheading the home attack, it was little surprise that they began the exchanges on top.

Thiago had the first chance as Hansi Flick’s men dominated, but his curling shot from the edge of the area was tipped over by Peter Gulacsi, who again produced an impressive showing.

The shot-stopper also denied Leon Goretzka, while Werner (with 20 league goals, only two behind Lewandowski in the scoring charts), could also have scored but side-footed wide.

If Bayern were the better team in the first half, Leipzig were on top for much of the second. They looked more threatening with Marcel Sabizter blazing one of their best chances over the bar while unmarked just 10 yards out.

Bayern were awarded a penalty after Lewandowski was tripped by Dayot Upamecan, Leipzig’s defensive lynchpin who has been playing through the pain barrier in recent weeks. But the decision was revoked for offside in the build-up following consultation with VAR.

Bayern also could have grabbed a late winner when Lewandowski slipped Goretzka through, but again, Gulacsi made a superb save to tip his shot around the post and secure his side a well-deserved share of the points.

Yet Leipzig – who included Spanish left-back Angelino in their starting line-up after he joined on loan from Manchester City on the last day of the January transfer window – had their moments too and Werner was twice off-target when well-placed.

The 23-year-old made his debut for Julian Nagelsmann’s side in their 3-1 cup defeat against Eintracht Frankfurt in midweek.

So no goals but still Bundesliga 2020 highlights, although it came as a surprise to some that Bayern interim coach Flick dropped Philippe Coutinho to the bench – he had previously backed him to rediscover his best form following a run of six competitive games without a goal.

Bayern retain a one-point lead at the summit, but it’s still close, with just four points separating the top four.

The question now is: can Leipzig really stay on Bayern’s heels?

 

Key statistics

Lewandowski and Werner are the first two players since Franz Brungs and Johannes Lohr (1967/68) to be on at least 20 goals after 20 matches.

Leipzig have only won one of their seven games this season against teams in the top six of the standings.

Nagelsmann’s side have taken 21 points from a possible 33 on the road this season – one more than Bayern – but have only won one of 10 competitive meetings with the Bavarians.

Konrad Laimer made his 100th competitive appearance for Leipzig.

Lucas Hernandez (four months out) and Kingsley Coman (two months) both made their Bundesliga comebacks after sustaining long-term injuries last year.

Joshua Kimmich made his professional debut for Leipzig in the third division.

 

What’s next?

Bayern have a week off now before travel to Koln a week today (February 16). They then host Paderborn in the top flight before returning to Champions League action against Chelsea on February 25.

Leipzig are in Champions League action a week before their counterparts. They also face English opposition as they travel to Spurs on February 19, following next weekend’s home game against Werder Bremen.

 

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