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Round 19 action

It was another disappointing weekend for neutrals in the Bundesliga. Bayern Munich enjoyed an emphatic 4-0 win over Schalke on Sunday to move seven points clear at the top after their two closest challengers, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen, both lost.

Leverkusen looked tired in their 1-0 defeat to Wolfsburg, as did Leipzig when they went down 3-2 at Mainz, perhaps showing that in this most exhausting of seasons (the Bundesliga played Round 17 midweek) Bayern’s strength in depth makes them unassailable. A seven-point buffer is certainly a big one at this stage.

However, those defeats at the top have made the battle for Champions League football more interesting. Wolfsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach, both having won successive games, are closing in at the top, but it is Eintracht Frankfurt’s form that raises an eyebrow. They have won five of the last six and now sit above Borussia Dortmund, who again dropped points at the weekend.

Here are three previews ahead of the weekend action.

Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim

Hoffenheim have gone three consecutive league games without conceding a goal and won both of their last two 3-0. Most significantly for this particular challenge, in both matches Hoffenheim held just over 40% possession; they were able to sit back and play on the counter attack, and did so superbly.

Bayern will definitely dominate the ball here, which is why Hoffenheim can take a lot of encouragement from their last two games. What’s more, their 3-5-2 formation is particularly well-suited to blocking off the flanks where Bayern chiefly operate. Their reliance on their pacey wingers could become an issue up against a ruthless back five.

However, it is impossible to look beyond Bayern right now. They are back in their very best form, and even a club as strong as Hoffenheim will only be able to resist for so long. It will be tighter than expected, but a narrow Bayern win is our tip.

Back Bayern to win with a -1 handicap.

RB Leipzig v Bayer Leverkusen

The biggest game of the weekend is perhaps no longer a title clash, but whichever of these two clubs loses will definitely be out of the race. The hosts, still sitting second in the table, will be alarmed by their recent form, having conceded eight times in their last four Bundesliga games - indeed, this porousness makes third-placed Bayer Leverkusen our favourites.

Leipzig’s high-intensity pressing football is perhaps a little too tiring at the moment, and this is leaving some gaps for opponents to counter-attack. This is great news for the visitors, who love to break via the pace of Moussa Diaby and Leon Bailey; both are in excellent form and should be backed to make the difference on Saturday.

A win for Leverkusen - assuming Bayern take three points as well - would put Bayern 10 points clear, completely ending all hope of stopping Hans-Dieter Flick’s side from winning their ninth title in a row.

Back Leverkusen to win.

Wolfsburg v Freiburg

What would normally be considered a fairly easy, straight-forward home win for Wolfsburg has been complicated by a run of impressive Freiburg form, having won four of their last six games. After winning away at Hoffenheim at the beginning of January, Freiburg nearly held out against Bayern in Munich - losing 2-1 in a tight and fascinating game.

Their 3-4-3 formation is ruthlessly organised from a defensive standpoint, and that puts them in a strong position to make the most of any vulnerability in the Wolfsburg camp. The hosts have won back-to-back games, both away from home. Freiburg will expect to stay compact in Wolfsburg and keep the score down. Expect a close game.

Back the draw.

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Jan 27, 2021

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