Over two months have passed since the previous round of fixtures, but the Bundesliga finally returns on Friday with a mouthwatering contest between league leaders Bayern Munich and third-place RB Leipzig.
|Photo: Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA 4.0|
After picking up just one win from their opening five league games, RB Leipzig took the decision to dismiss Domenico Tedesco as their head coach, and appoint Marco Rose as his replacement. Leipzig have not looked back since Rose’s arrival, winning seven, drawing two and losing only one of the ten league games under his watch.
Die Roten Bullen have not lost a competitive match since a 3-0 defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach on September 17. As a result of their impressive form, Leipzig finished 2022 with a 13-game unbeaten run in all competitions, which helped them secure their place in the Champions League knockout rounds and progress to the last-16 of the DFB-Pokal. That positive run of results also leaves Leipzig in third place and six points adrift of Bayern ahead of Friday's encounter.
With the hosts looking to halve the gap to the league leaders on Friday, they can draw inspiration from their impressive performances at the Red Bull Arena this season. Leipzig currently have the best home record in the topflight after winning six and drawing one of their seven home league games, scoring at least two goals in all of those matches. Rose’s side will now be aiming to record a seventh consecutive home league victory on Friday.
With Peter Gulacsi ruled out for the season, Janis Blaswich will continue in goal. Christopher Nkunku is sidelined with a knee injury, and he is not expected to return until February, while Abdou Diallo and David Raum are doubts for Friday's contest.
Bayern will return from the winter break with a four-point lead over second-place Freiburg. Although they experienced a four-game league winless run towards the beginning of the season, the Bavarians rounded off 2022 in imperious form.
Julian Nagelsmann are unbeaten in their last 13 matches in all competitions, while they have only dropped two points in their previous eight Bundesliga games. Impressively, Bayern have won their last 10 competitive fixtures, scoring 38 goals in that period.
Unsurprisingly, Bayern are comfortably the highest scorers in the Bundesliga this season, racking up 49 goals from 15 matches, while they also boast the best defensive record in the topflight after conceding just 13 goals.
Bayern have only lost one away league game this season - a 1-0 defeat to Augsburg in September - and they have collected more away points than any other side in the league, picking up 17 points from eight matches.
Although the German champions will not need any more encouragement, they can take inspiration from their recent head-to-head record with Leipzig. Bayern are unbeaten in the last 10 competitive meetings between the two sides, and they have emerged victorious in their previous five games against Friday’s opponents, including a 5-3 German Super Cup win at the start of the season.
Bayern signed Yann Sommer from Gladbach on Thursday as a replacement for Manuel Neuer, who is a long-term injury absentee. The new arrival could be brought into the starting lineup for Friday's encounter, while fellow January signing, Daley Blind, may also feature in the matchday squad. However, Bayern are unable to call upon the services of Noussair Mazraoui, Lucas Hernandez, Sadio Mané and Bouna Sarr.