RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich predictions: Bundesliga back with a bang
- Leipzig went into the break having won five of their last six Bundesliga games, scoring 16 goals
- However, Bayern netted a whopping 24 goals in winning each of their last six league matches
- Recommended bet: Bayern Munich to win and both teams to score
The Bundesliga returns from a two-month break with a massive top-of-the-table clash between third-placed RB Leipzig and leaders Bayern Munich.
Neither club will have welcomed such a lengthy mid-season pause as, after slow starts that saw both teams outside of the top four after seven league matches, both recovered to go on hugely impressive runs in October and November.
Any fleeting fears of missing out on another finish in the Champions League places will have passed and their respective supporters will now have an eye on the Bundesliga title.
Leipzig manager Marco Rose knows that beating Bayern on home soil is essential if they are to have any hope of bridging the six-point gap between themselves and the 32-time German champions and will hope they can catch the visitors cold in their first game back.
Rose has both his first-choice goalkeeper and first-choice attacker out with knee injuries. Goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi is likely to be out for the season after damaging an anterior cruciate ligament, while 12-goal Christopher Nkunku is a couple of weeks from returning from his own knee injury.
Centre-back Abdou Diallo and left-back David Raum are doubts but the RB Leipzig manager will hope to be able to include both in his matchday squad.
Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann has similar problems to Rose after his first-choice goalkeeper Manuel Neuer last month joined attacker Sadio Mane on the sidelines. Neuer is out for the season after breaking his leg while Mane is not expected back until mid-February with tendon damage.
France defender Lucas Hernandez tore a cruciate ligament at the World Cup and is out for the season while right-back Bouna Sarr remains sidelined with a knee issue and full-back Noussair Mazraoui is being rested after suffering a Covid-related heart condition.
While Leipzig have emerged as a Bundesliga big hitter in recent years – qualifying for the Champions League in five of the last six seasons and twice finishing second – they have remained firmly second-best in their meetings with Bayern. Their 12 league meetings since 2016 have returned seven Bayern wins, four draws and just one Leipzig victory in 2018.
The pair also met in the season-opening Super Cup, which Bayern won 5-3 to extend a run of four of the last five meetings producing five or more goals. Last season Bayern won 4-1 in Leipzig and were then 3-2 winners back in Munich.
Nagelsmann prefers to outscore opponents rather than shut them out, conceding almost a goal per game in the Bundesliga – and failing to keep a clean sheet in any of three trips to top-half hosts – but scoring a massive 49 goals in 15 league matches.
Leipzig are not quite as gung-ho but have scored eight goals in winning all three home games against top-half visitors. However, four Bundesliga rivals have better defensive records than Rose's men and they conceded four goals against fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt and lost 3-0 at Borussia Monchengladbach.
Both managers are without a star striker but that will not change their front-footed approach and it is likely that fans will be treated to another goal-laden thriller in the first Bundesliga match since the break.
Attack-minded Leipzig have scored in each of their last 10 Bundesliga home games at a rate of 2.7 goals per game and have scored nine goals in their last five meetings with Bayern.
However, that flurry of goals has rarely been enough to get anything off a Bayern side boasting incredible firepower, with the Munich giants outscoring Leipzig in each of the last four meetings.