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Round 26 action
The Bundesliga title race took yet another twist last weekend as RB Leipzig dropped points at Eintracht Frankfurt, a result that allowed Bayern Munich to move four points clear at the top. Such is the vast chasm of quality and resources between the two teams, Julian Nagelsmann cannot afford to let Bayern get any further away - piling pressure on to this weekend’s games.
Bayern’s 3-1 win at Bremen was an unsurprising result, but noteworthy because both Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller performed well on their returns from injury. These two players will have a big part to play, only further strengthening the title credentials of Hans-Dieter Flick’s side.
There was just as big a result at the other end of the table, with Mainz 05 beating Freiburg 1-0 to move level on points with Hertha Berlin at 16th - marking a seven-point turnaround over the last five Bundesliga games alone. Mainz now look likely to pull off a great escape.
Bayern Munich v Stuttgart
This could be a surprisingly tough game for Bayern, despite having won three league games in a row with 12 goals scored. Muller and Gnabry have added significant firepower to an already brilliant attack, and yet there is a chance that Bayern’s forwards may struggle against such a sturdy Stuttgart defence.
The visitors are undefeated in five matches, and that is largely due to a very good defensive setup at the moment; they have managed fewer than 10 shots on goal in each of their last three, suggesting their counter-attacking threat really won’t be much trouble for Bayern.
But Leipzig shouldn’t expect any favours. Stuttgart’s good run is partly because of a kind run of games, whereas in their last tough away game, against Bayer Leverkusen, they were roundly beaten 5-2. Bayern should similarly be able to cut through, recording a fairly comfortable win to hold onto their four-point lead.
Arminia Bielefeld v RB Leipzig
This looks like an easy game for Leipzig, on paper, not least because Arminia Bielefeld are just a single point above the relegation zone and have not won any of their last four home games in the Bundesliga. Unfortunately for Nagelsmann, that was made irrelevant by Bielefeld’s surprising defeat of Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 last weekend.
That was a huge win, defined by backs-to-the-wall defending and quick counter-attacks. In a compact 4-4-2, Bielefeld held a mere 25% possession in a smash and grab win that saw Moussa Diaby kept quiet, against the odds. If they can play that way again, RB Leipzig could find themselves falling further behind Bayern.
Leipzig are slowing down in attack, too, scoring just once in their last two games and losing limply to Liverpool in the Champions League. Nagelsmann even brought Justin Kluivert into the starting line-up last weekend, but his influence was limited. Bielefeld should be able to hold on to a point here.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Union Berlin
Frankfurt are one of three teams in the Bundesliga yet to lose at home, a record that has provided the foundation to a campaign that may still end in Champions League qualification - if they can hold on to their fourth-place spot. However, they have failed to win in their last three games, which has allowed Borussia Dortmund to move within two points of them, and that added pressure is likely to lead to hesitant performances, with the potential for further dropped points.
This is a bad time then, to come up against Union Berlin, who are five games unbeaten domestically and who would move to within three points of Frankfurt with a win here. Expect the visitors to sit back and defend for long periods before looking to take advantage of set pieces. With Frankfurt in poor form, it should work.
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