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The Bundesliga season resumes on Friday after the post-World Cup 2022 winter break
Bayern Munich are four points clear at the top of the table after 15 rounds of fixtures
RB Leipzig sit third in the standings having improved after a change of manager
The odds for RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich are brought to you by the FanDuel sportsbook, where you can get a $1000 no sweat bet.
This promises to be an entertaining game but we fancy the champions to get the job done.
Back Bayern Munich to win and over 1.5 goals on Friday. (-107)
Even in this busiest of seasons, the Bundesliga stuck to its guns regarding the winter break. Premier League clubs had very little time off post-World Cup 2022, while La Liga, Ligue 1, and Serie A also returned either just before or after the turn of the year.
But Germany’s top flight wanted to give its players a few weeks to recover from their exploits in Qatar, even though the vast majority of footballers who ply their trade in the country did not take part in the World Cup. The irony is that Germany themselves were eliminated in the group phase for the second tournament in a row.
The Bundesliga has more leeway to have a mid-season pause since there are only 18 teams in the division, compared to 20 in each of Europe’s other major leagues. Needless to say, German soccer fans are itching to watch their teams in competitive action for the first time in two months.
The campaign restarts with Bayern Munich in a familiar position: at the top of the table. Yet it has not been entirely plain sailing for Julian Nagelsmann’s side up to now. They have dropped points in a third of their 15 encounters - by no means a disastrous record, but not a flawless one by their exceptionally high standards.
Even so, it would be a massive shock if Bayern went on to finish anywhere other than first. They hold a four-point advantage at the summit of the standings at present. They have scored the most goals and conceded the fewest.
The best online sportsbooks are currently offering a price of around -5000 on Bayern winning the title, which evidences how unlikely it is that any other team goes on to claim the prize. Those odds could shorten further if they come out on top here.
Nagelsmann spent two seasons in charge of Leipzig before leaving for Bayern in the summer of 2021. Since then, his former club have employed three different head coaches.
Jesse Marsch, Nagelsmann’s predecessor, struggled after stepping up from Red Bull Salzburg and was dismissed in December 2022. His successor Domenico Tedesco did a fantastic job, leading Leipzig into the top four and winning the DFB-Pokal. But just 10 months later, he too was sacked.
Marco Rose will be the man in the home team’s dugout on Friday. We are still early in his tenure but it is fair to say the former Borussia Dortmund boss has done an excellent job so far.
Under his tutelage, Leipzig have climbed from 11th place to third. In the 10 rounds of fixtures, since he assumed control, his team have taken as many points as Bayern. A win here would see them move above second-placed Freiburg and to within just three points of the champions.
In one sense the World Cup break came at a bad time for Leipzig, who won four Bundesliga matches on the bounce before international soccer took center stage.
But perhaps the hiatus will actually prove to have served Leipzig well, allowing as it did more time for Rose to work with his players on the training pitch.
Only time will tell in that regard, but as things stand Leipzig look the likeliest candidate to be Bayern’s primary challengers in the title race.
When these two teams met in the DFB-Supercup at the end of July, viewers were treated to an incredibly entertaining encounter. The sides shared eight goals between them, as Bayern ran out 5-3 winners in the campaign’s traditional curtain-raiser.
We are unlikely to be treated to quite so many goals this time around. The DFB-Supercup is not exactly friendly, but nor is it as important as the Bundesliga, Champions League, Europa League, or DFB-Pokal. The defending on Friday will surely not be so lax.
It might also take some time for Leipzig and Bayern to rediscover their rhythm. Both teams have been playing friendlies in recent weeks, but it is difficult to replicate the competitive nature of Bundesliga matches in an environment where the result does not really matter.
That is why we recommend a relatively conservative pick - albeit one which offers a decent return. Although a game featuring eight goals is improbable, it is hard to see this encounter featuring fewer than 1.5.
And for all the progress Leipzig have made under Rose, they do not have the same level of quality as Bayern. For that reason, we fancy an away win at the Red Bull Arena on Friday.
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Teams: RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich
Location: Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany
Time: Friday 20 January 2023, 2.30 pm EST
How to Watch: ESPN+
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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