Bayer Leverkusen host Bayern Munich on Saturday evening in a huge clash in the title race. Xabi Alonso’s side sits two points clear of Die Roten having gone unbeaten in 20 Bundesliga matches this season. The teams played out a 2-2 draw when they last met in September.
Alonso’s team have played 30 matches in all competitions this season without a single defeat. In the league, it’s 16 wins and four draws from 20 rounds of action with a paltry 14 goals leaked. In December, they dropped points at home to Dortmund and away at Stuttgart with 1-1 draws.
They ended 2023 with three wins and began 2024 with a 1-0 win at Augsburg and a 3-2 victory at RB Leipzig. A 0-0 home draw with Borussia Monchengladbach saw 79% possession, 2.99 xG, and 28 shots at goal. A 2-0 victory at SV Darmstadt and a 3-2 home win over Stuttgart in the last minute followed.
Leverkusen Team News
For this key match, Leverkusen are without top scorer Victor Boniface due to a serious groin injury. Patrik Schick will lead the line after returning in October from seven months out injured. Young right-back Arthur is ruled out.
Central midfielder Exequiel Palacios has a thigh injury and is very doubtful to feature. Odilon Kossounou is missing at the back due to involvement in the AFCON final, but Edmond Tapsoba should return to play in the back three.
This is a huge match in the title race. Leverkusen will play to dominate possession and to win the match at home.
A draw would not be a bad result on paper as it keeps them on top of the table.
Bayern Munich Form
Bayern have lost two of 20 matches this season and sit two points over Leverkusen in the table. Both of those defeats have come in the last eight rounds having gone unbeaten in the first 12 fixtures. They were destroyed 5-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt in round 13 before winning away at Man Utd (1-0) and then three in a row in the Bundesliga.
A 1-0 home loss to Werder Bremen saw Die Roten produce 1.92 xG and 22 shots. They have won their last two matches in response. A 3-2 victory at Augsburg preceded a 3-1 home success over Borussia Monchengladbach. They dominated in the first half of that win as they were 11-4 on shots, even though it took until the 45th minute to score.
Bayern Munich Team News
Thomas Tuchel has plenty of injury concerns and absentees. Joshua Kimmich is doubtful in midfield, and such is the form of teenager, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Tuchel may bench Kimmich regardless. Dayot Upamecano has been struggling with a muscle injury, so Eric Dier is on standby to deputise.
Alphonso Davies is out injured at left back and both Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry miss out in wide areas. Konrad Laimer will play no part at right back. Kim Min-jae is back in Germany after international duty to boost defensive options.
Bayern Munich Motivation
This is a must-not-lose for Bayern. Of course, a win puts them top of the table and they will try to take the three points.
A defeat opens the gap to five points and would see pressure on Tuchel ramp up. The tactician needs to avoid a loss and live to fight another day.
Bayern Leverkusen are unbeaten in the Bundesliga (16 wins, 4 draws)
Leverkusen are 30 matches without defeat this season in all competitions
Bayern Munich have lost just once in 9 matches vs Leverkusen
Bayern have conceded in 9 of their last 12 away league matches
Bayern’s Harry Kane has scored 24 of his side’s 59 league goals this term
This should be a truly fascinating tactical battle. Leverkusen are so dominant within games but they’re missing their top striker. Bayern have a host of injury concerns at the back but can lean on Harry Kane. A score draw may be the most likely result.