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Round Seven action
It’s Der Klassiker this weekend and the Bundesliga table could hardly be better poised. RB Leipzig’s disappointing 1-0 defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach last weekend saw them lose their place at the top, ousted by Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich: level on points, set to face each other on Saturday evening.
It was a quiet weekend on the whole, however, with the most notable story being Bayer Leverkusen’s emphatic 4-2 win at Freiburg, lifting Peter Bosz’s side to within three points of the top of the table courtesy of goals from Lucas Alario, Nadiem Amiri and Jonathan Tah. Leverkusen are in free-scoring form as supporters begin to dream of a title push.
But it is impossible to look beyond what is developing among the traditional big two. With the international break coming directly after these games, this is a huge moment - and a chance for a young Dortmund team to prove they are ready to end Bayern’s eight-year streak.
Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich
With four clean sheets in a row, Dortmund are looking very secure at the moment. They have great strength in depth, too, and having rotated players for the Champions League will feel rested. Lucien Favre’s 4-2-3-1 formation focuses on high pressing and attacking tactics, which should give Bayern plenty of opportunity to score on the break. We expect a lot of goals in what is likely to be a very chaotic game.
Erling Haaland can’t stop scoring at the moment, and is supported brilliantly by Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus - expect these three to burst in behind a Bayern defence that is rarely tested quite we suspect it will be on Saturday. Benjamin Pavard hasn’t been in good form recently, which gives Dortmund the chance on this flank through Thorgan Hazard.
But Bayern are a ruthless machine, scoring six in midweek. Robert Lewndowski, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane will rush forward on the counter-attack when opportunities arise, making for a frantic end-to-end game.
Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Monchengladbach (zero margin game - offering the fairest odds)
Incredibly, this could be an even better game than Der Klassiker. Leverkusen have won three in a row in the league, and with eight goals in their last two matches in all competitions are ramping up form at just the right moment. Similarly, Borussia Monchengladbach are on fire, winning 6-0 midweek and picking up 10 points from their last four Bundesliga outings.
Not only are both teams confident, then, but they also have a tactical battle plan that will favour both attacking sides. Bosz and Marco Rose both play quick vertical games with high pressing and a desire to move the ball quickly into the final third. As both sets of players adopt this approach, it should mean there is space at both ends of the pitch - with defenders overwhelmed by an onrush of bodies.
Leon Bailey, Moussa Diaby, Marcus Thuram and Alessane Plea are wonderfully gifted players who we suspect will enjoy plenty of space this weekend.
Stuttgart v Frankfurt
Judging by the form guide, this will be a low-scoring game. Stuttgart are yet to win at home and have drawn three of their last four, looking sluggish and a bit flat. Frankfurt have scored a mere four goals in three away games, and have now failed to win any of their last three.
With confidence low and the value of a point high, it is probable that Stuttgart and Frankfurt will slog this one out to a draw. This is only made more likely by the fact that their two mirror-image formations - of 3-4-2-1 - should cancel each other out in all areas of the pitch. A game with six centre-backs won’t bring much action.
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