Manuel Veth –
RB Leipzig vs Bayern – Saturday, May 11, 14:30BST/15:30CEST – Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany
It is not a classic, yet. But there are signs of a developing rivalry between RB Leipzig and Bayern München, especially as Leipzig’s Red Bulls are slowly but surely closing the gap to Germany’s biggest club.
Back during RB Leipzig’s first season this matchup also took place on matchday 33. Bayern would eventually win that match 4-5 after a spectacular comeback and put upstarts, RB Leipzig, back in their place. But even though Leipzig will likely finish third and not second, like it was the case in 2017, the gap between the two clubs is closing.
“The result is more important for Bayern than for us,” sporting director/interims head coach Ralf Rangnick said this week. “It isn’t often the case that you can play Bundesliga games without having to worry about the result,” he added.
That, however, does not mean that RB Leipzig will hand out the three points. “We have a responsibility to keep the competition open. After all, Bayern could secure their seventh title in a row on Saturday. Furthermore, the two clubs will also meet in the DFB Pokal final on May 25, and Ralf Rangnick will want to set the stage for that game.
Hence, key players like Marcel Sabitzer, who was rested against Mainz will likely return to the squad. “We are aware that a successful game against Bayern will increase our chances in the DFB Pokal final,” Rangnick said.
Meanwhile, Bayern will have to face RB Leipzig on Saturday without their captain Manuel Neuer. “Manuel Neuer is not ready yet and will not travel to Leipzig – We hope he can train again next week and be available for the last two games,” Bayern head coach Niko Kovac said this week. Furthermore, Neuer is not the only player with problems. “Javi Martinez is a doubt. James is back in training – Lewandowski worked individually,” Kovac added.
Without Neuer then and Sven Ulreich in goal. Bayern just need two points from the last two games to secure the title. But at the same time, the game against Leipzig on Saturday will be extremely difficult. The Saxony based side has been perhaps the most consistent club during the second half of the season and this season overall have made a big step towards medium-term becoming a team that can not just compete with Bayern but also beat them out to the title.
RB Leipzig vs Bayern – Players to look out for:
Timo Werner #11 – RB Leipzig
Timo Werner will be under particular observation when RB Leipzig host Bayern on Saturday. After all, the forward is expected to join the Rekordmeister either this summer or on a free transfer in 2020. But until then the striker will be RB Leipzig’s biggest dangerman in the game on Saturday. Werner, after all, likes to score against Bayern at home, he scored twice in the 4-5 defeat to Bayern in 2017 and also assisted once and scored the winner in Leipzig’s 2-1 victory last season.
Leon Goretzka #18 – Bayern München
“A great character, a great man,” Kovac said about Leon Goretzka this week. Whenever he played, he did an excellent job. I’m not playing him because he’s a nice guy, but because he’s a very good footballer.” With Javi Martínez likely missing this game on Saturday Goretzka will be asked to play the more dynamic role next to the Spaniard in the double-pivot role. More offensive minded than Javi Martínez it will be interesting to see whether Goretzka can cope with Leipzig’s aggressive high press.
RB Leipzig vs Bayern – Match Stats
- Bayern can secure the title with a win. Bayern have not obtained any of their last 12 titles at home. The last time Bayern celebrated winning the title in Munich was in 2000.
- RB Leipzig keeper Peter Gulacsi has the best save percentage of all keepers in the league (76.5%). Among all regular starters, Manuel Neuer has the worst (59.6%). Meanwhile, Neuer’s backup Sven Ulreich’s save percentage is only 55.6%.
- RB Leipzig’s home record against Bayern: W1 D0 L1.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: RB Leipzig vs Bayern – 2-1
RB Leipzig vs Bayern – Lineups
Gulacsi – Mukiele, Konaté, Orban – Klostermann, Laimer, Halstenberg – Sabitzer, Forsberg – Poulsen, Werner
Head Coach: Ralf Rangnick
Ulreich – Kimmich, Süle, Hummels, Alaba – Goretzka, Thiago – Gnabry, Müller, Coman – Lewandowski
Head Coach: Niko Kovac
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.