Round 31 action
RB Leipzig have collapsed right at the last, falling to a 2-1 defeat to FC Koln and seeing their five-point deficit to Bayern Munich double in the space of just four days. The 10 point difference, with a mere four games remaining, means Hansi Flick’s side are on the verge of their ninth consecutive title and can seal it this weekend at Mainz 05.
Flick has already announced his departure from Bayern at the end of the season following some high-profile fallings out with his bosses. Once the title is sewn up, attention will turn to who may succeed him. As is so often the case these days in the Bundesliga, any challenge to Bayern’s supremacy usually leads to them simply poaching - or perhaps a better word would be gutting - their rivals; RB Leipzig’s Julien Nagelsmann is the favourite for the top job.
The next most significant result of the mid-week round was Mainz 05’s 1-0 victory over Werder Bremen, which plunged them further into crisis. A run of six consecutive Bundesliga defeats leaves them worryingly close to the drop zone.
Here are three previews of weekend matches.
Mainz 05 v Bayern Munich
A meeting between the league’s two form teams is a real test for Bayern, who will be relieved to find themselves so far ahead in the title race before this one. Mainz are particularly good when playing on the counter-attack, sitting with a very deep defensive line and, in a 3-4-2-1 formation, breaking through a narrow front three. They have held just over 35% possession in each of their last two wins.
Bayern, then, will hog the ball but may not be able to break through the defensive shield. However, the brilliant young winger Jamal Musiala continues to light up the division, the 18-year-old scoring twice in Bayern’s last away game. The sheer power and attacking quality in Flick’s team will be enough - just don’t expect a particularly high-scoring win.
Back Bayern to win (1.33) and under 3.5 goals (1.96) - the over is 1.86.
Wolfsburg v Borussia Dortmund
The battle for Champions League football heats up this weekend with six-pointers between the clubs in third, fourth, fifth and sixth. Dortmund are only five points shy of Wolfsburg and therefore will blow the race wide open with a win. They really ought to be able to do so, given how aggressive and open Wolfsburg have been playing recently.
In their 4-3 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt and 3-2 defeat to Bayern earlier this month, Wolfsburg’s high pressing, gung-ho attacking football made for end-to-end games, but unfortunately they don’t have the defensive qualities to win that kind of match. Dortmund, with so much pace and energy in Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho, should tear Wolfsburg apart in the transition.
Bayer Leverkusen v Eintracht Frankfurt
A run of just two wins from their last six Bundesliga matches puts Bayer Leverkusen in a weak position in a bid for a Champions League spot, and their faint hopes will likely fade away on Saturday evening against Frankfurt. The visitors have won four of their last five, and although performances have been erratic their attacking threat should be too much for Leverkusen.
The hosts have failed to score in three of their last five, reflecting the poor form of Leon Bailey and Moussa Diaby, while Frankfurt’s Andre Silva is on a hot streak. This will be an entertaining game - between them, these two teams average 3.5 goals per game over the last five fixtures - but Frankfurt should edge it.
Back Frankfurt to win (2.89) - although Leverkusen are slightly favoured by the odds (2.38).