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|To Win and Both Teams to Score
|Bayern Munich and Yes
|Tie and Yes
|RB Leipzig and Yes
Bayern are difficult to stop, particularly at the Allianz Arena, but this weekend’s visitors have enough quality to find the back of the net.
Back Bayern Munich to win and both teams to score
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A six-point gap between first and second place in the Bundesliga at this stage of the season is relatively slender. At times in the past decade, Bayern have had one hand on the trophy by now. They are still heavy favorites to lift the title, with the latest odds rating their chances at -6600 compared to +1400 for second-placed Borussia Dortmund. But for now, at least, Bayern are not quite home and dry.
This weekend feels like a big one, though. Facing an in-form RB Leipzig makes Saturday’s clash at the Allianz Arena one of the more difficult fixtures Bayern still have to fulfil. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Julian Nagelsmann’s side slip up against the manager’s former employers. If they do, Dortmund would have the chance to move to within three or four points of top spot by beating Bayer Leverkusen (which itself is not a given).
Yet although the math suggests the race is still on, few in Germany are expecting anything other than another title triumph for the Bavarian giants. This is one of the strongest Bayern sides we have seen in the last decade. The team dipped under Carlo Ancelotti and Niko Kovac, but Nagelsmann has made them one of the best in Europe again. It will be very difficult for Dortmund to catch them, not least because Marco Rose’s side are still dogged by inconsistency.
When RB Leipzig appointed Nagelsmann in 2019, they knew he would not be at the Red Bull Arena for ever. The 34-year-old has long been regarded as one of the brightest young coaches in the world, and it was always likely that he would one day move on to bigger and better things. That day came last summer, as Bayern approached him to be their new manager. Leipzig are a well-run club with smart operators behind the scenes and a defined, distinct model. Yet replacing Nagelsmann was never going to be easy.
Leipzig opted for Jesse Marsch, a coach who knew the system well owing to his time with New York Red Bulls and Red Bull Salzburg. On paper he seemed like the perfect fit. But the appointment did not work, and Marsch was dismissed in early December after a run of three consecutive defeats left Leipzig 11th in the Bundesliga table.
Leipzig’s style of play had evolved under Nagelsmann. They held onto the ball for longer and were more comfortable in possession. They remained adept at pressing their opponents, but there was less emphasis on quick transitions. In appointing Marsch, Leipzig wanted to go bac to their roots of heavy metal, 100-mile-per-hour soccer. The chief executive Oliver Mintzlaff described it as a “return to the core philosophy, classic RB football.”
It did not work, and Domenico Tedesco is now at the helm. The early signs have been positive, with three wins on the bounce since the winter break. So far, Tedesco’s soccer looks more like Nagelsmann’s than Marsch’s. Leipzig are up to sixth spot and are just three points adrift of the Champions League places. But needless to say, Saturday’s assignment is the toughest yet for Tedesco.
Leipzig have only suffered one defeat under Tedesco, a 2-0 home reverse at the hands of Arminia Bielefeld in December. Yet in the last six rounds of Bundesliga action, only Bayern have bettered their tally of 13 points from a possible 18.
Leipzig have also scored in seven of their last eight matches and have failed to find the net in only four of their 20 league outings this term. They were thrashed by Bayern in the reverse fixture back in September, but still managed to make the net bulge in a 4-1 loss.
That is one reason to consider a bet which includes at least one Leipzig goal on Saturday. Another is Bayern’s defensive record, which is comfortably the best in the division but is not outstanding by their standards. The Bavarians are shipping virtually a goal a game this season, with 19 conceded in 20 matches up to now. Their backline has been breached in 13 different games.
Leipzig are much improved under Tedesco and they will arrive at the Allianz Arena with renewed confidence. Halting the Bayern juggernaut will be extremely tough, though, particularly as the champions will be fresh after a two-week pause for World Cup qualifiers. Back a home win and both teams to score.
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|Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig Information
|Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig
|Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany
|Saturday, 5 February 2022, 12.30 PM EST
|How to watch
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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