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Leipzig host Bayern hoping to keep Bundesliga ‘exciting’

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Bayern Munich manager Julian Nagelsmann admitted on Wednesday that he wanted to prevent the league from being “re-interested” with an away victory over a resurgent RB Leipzig on Friday.

Four points behind the leader, Bayern are hoping for a record 11th consecutive Bundesliga title.

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Despite bold challenges from Freiburg and Union Berlin, the familiar setbacks of Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen have made Leipzig the most likely contender for Bayern’s title.

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“If we win the game, a nine-point lead (ahead of RB) would be a good defense. If we lose it will be very exciting again and then we will be under a lot of pressure to act in the Bundesliga. than if we had won,” Nagelsmann said on Friday.

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“So it’s an important game.”

In this match, Germany’s two top-fit ​​teams go head-to-head in what is arguably the biggest rivalry in the Bundesliga in recent seasons.

In six of the 12 teams facing each other in the league, the teams finished first and second in the rankings.

While Bayern have only lost once in all competitions and are strong favorites for both the title and Friday’s game, RB have only lost twice since local Leipzig lad Marco Rose took over as head coach in September .

The Red Bulls’ home record is even more impressive, with six wins and one draw in seven league games this season. Bayern have won five, drawn two and lost one of their eight away games.

However, neither side will be at full strength as several key players are missing.

Bayern captain and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and defender Lucas Hernandez suffered long-term injuries, while striker Sadio Mane won’t be back until at least February.

Leipzig captain and goalkeeper Peter Gulaci is also out for a long time, and France striker Christopher Nkunku will not return in time to face Bayern.

However, Leipzig will once again face striker Timo Werner, who missed the World Cup with an ankle injury.

In an interview published on Wednesday with Germany’s Sportbild, Werner said Leipzig could “increase the pressure on Bayern, especially since we still have the second leg.”

“Before the winter break, we were on par with Bayern in terms of the quality of the game.”

Werner, however, said his side would need to achieve a level of consistency similar to Bayern’s if they gave up a real title challenge this season.

“A victory will point us in the right direction, but more important than the victory over Bayern is to be consistent after that.

“The title will be decided in games against teams that have other things to worry about.”

Who to watch: Sebastian Haller (Borussia D)

Borussia Dortmund striker Sebastien Haller is set to make his first appearance for the club at home to Augsburg on Thursday after battling testicular cancer.

Haller was diagnosed just days after signing with Dortmund in the summer of 2022 and spent the rest of the year undergoing treatment, including four rounds of chemotherapy and two surgeries.

Coming on as a substitute in a friendly against Fortuna Düsseldorf in January, Haller said he wanted to “give the manager no choice” but to pick him.

He delivered on that promise with his next strike, scoring three goals in eight minutes when he was substituted at half-time in a friendly against Basel on Friday, proving that his return to the pitch was more than just sentimental.

Dortmund resume the season nine points behind league leaders Bayern sixth.

Key statistics

19 – The number of saves Jann Sommer made for Borussia Monchengladbach in the August match against Bayern.

13. Both RB Leipzig and Bayern are unbeaten in their last 13 matches in all competitions.

12 out of 15 – Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku has scored 12 goals in 15 games this season and is the Bundesliga’s top scorer. He will miss the Bayern visit due to injury.



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