A first versus second clash highlight the Bundesliga weekend which also includes the Berlin derby and floundering Schalke’s latest attempt to secure a victory.
dpa/GNA – Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich host second-placed RB Leipzig on Saturday and the build-up to the clash could hardly have been more different.
While the treble winners could rest several stars for their largely meaningless Champions League draw away to Atletico Madrid, Leipzig are full of adrenaline after securing a last-gasp win in a seven-goal thriller to boost their qualification hopes.
The weekend starts with Hertha hosting Union in Friday’s Berlin derby and on Sunday Schalke’s long winless run threatens to continue against unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen.
Borussia Dortmund hope to bounce back away to Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday but it is the late kick-off which brings the drama to matchday 10.
Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann said his team have “three exciting games within one week,” as the trip to Munich precedes a do-or-die Champions League clash with Manchester United.
“That’s why none of these games is more important than another. We’re preparing so that we can win each game.
“If we don’t beat Bayern in the Bundesliga on Saturday, we can still achieve our goals – but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to go there and win.
“Because of the amount of games that are coming up, we have room for the odd error.”
Leipzig trail Bayern by two points having drawn once more than the Munich giants this term. Both teams have lost once.
Marcel Sabitzer said Leizig have “two very difficult games ahead of us, but we’re in a good place. Second in the league and in control of our own destiny in the Champions League.
“Therefore, we can go into these games with confidence. Of course, you need a fantastic day to beat Bayern … it is important that we regenerate well and carry out the match plan.”
Bayern will certainly recall first-choice keeper Manuel Neuer, midfielder Leon Goretzka and star striker Robert Lewandowski for Leipzig, along with a host of talent in between.
Already qualified to the Champions League knock-outs as group winners, Bayern enjoyed a “successful evening” in Spain despite needing a late equalizer to draw 1-1 according to Hansi Flick.
“For the young players, I am delighted that they have played their first game in a stadium like this,” he said.
But with Bayern enjoying only one league win over Leipzig in the last five meetings, the coach will not be risking anything less than his full strength team.
Fourth-placed Dortmund will hope to take advantage of their rivals playing each other when they visit midtable Frankfurt but responded to their shock 2-1 loss to Cologne last week by drawing with Lazio on Wednesday.
Defender Mats Hummels is a doubt with a knock while key striker Erling Haaland is ruled out. Sporting director Michael Zorc also admitted: “You could see one or two players were on their last legs,” against the Romans.
Leverkusen are third when they visit bottom club Schalke, who have not won in 25 league games, after Werder Bremen v VfB Stuttgart on Sunday.
Coach Manuel Baum claimed “the balance between effort and reward isn’t right at the moment,” though the side were ultimately well beaten 4-1 at Borussia Moenchengladbach last time.
Hoffenheim v Augsburg is on Monday while Saturday also has Freiburg v Gladbach, Cologne v Wolfsburg and Arminia Bielefeld v Mainz after the weekend starts with capital pride at stake Friday.
“A victory is always that little bit better in a derby,” said Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia. His side are 13th with high-flying Union sixth.
Like all other matches this weekend, fans will not be permitted to attend as part of Germany’s current coronavirus restrictions.