Berlin - Bayern Munich face an acid test of their status as
Bundesliga leaders in Wednesday's crunch showdown when they host second-placed
RB Leipzig, who know they have nothing to lose.
The Bavarian giants have won the Bundesliga title at a
canter in each of the last four seasons, but Leipzig, who were only founded in
2009, have torn up the form book in their first season in Germany's top flight.
Just like Bayern, they have won 11 of their 15 league games,
with three wins and a single defeat.
Both clubs have 36 points, but Munich are top on goal
A shock 1-0 defeat to Ingolstadt ten days ago is the only
blot on Leipzig's record having so far beaten the likes of Dortmund, Leverkusen,
Schalke and now Hertha Berlin, following Saturday's 2-0 home win.
"Quick, compact and greedy -- they are the best
opponent we have faced so far," was Hertha coach Pal Dardai's appraisal of
Leipzig, who had gone a record 13 matches unbeaten at the start of their debut
The Bundesliga breaks for winter after this round of
mid-week matches and the Allianz Arena showdown is the standout tie.
Having led for three weeks until early December, Leipzig
knocked Bayern off the summit for 24 hours after their impressive win over
Hertha before Munich's 1-0 victory at bottom side Darmstadt put them top again
"We're proud to have a game on Wednesday against Bayern
Munich which will electrify the whole of Germany and will certainly inspire
across the borders," said Leipzig's Austrian coach Ralph Hasenhuettl.
Last month, Bayern's president Uli Hoeness dubbed Leipzig
their "second enemy" in Germany alongside Borussia Dortmund before
withdrawing the comment, but the Bavarians clearly feel threatened by Leipzig.
Also read: Rafinha signs Bayern contract extension
RB are one of the few German clubs who have deep pockets
like Bayern with the financial weight of Austrian drinks giants Red Bull behind
Their team has an average age of just over 23 and there is
little fear ahead of their historic first Bundesliga match against Bayern.
"We want to, we can, but we don't have to," said
defender Stefan Ilsanker when asked about the pressure to win in Munich.
Leipzig are set to be without injured defensive midfielder
Naby Keita (thigh) and defender Marcel Halstenberg (hip), but Leipzig's young
guns are relishing the test of their mettle.
- 'Huge anticipation' -
"The anticipation is huge. We'll put everything into it
and I can hardly wait," said centre-back Willi Orban, who scored against
Centre-backs Orban and Ilsanker will be tasked with
containing Bayern's Thomas Mueller and Robert Lewandowski, while Leipzig's top
scorer Timo Werner, who has nine league goals, will face Germany's Mats
Bayern will be missing his centre-back partner Jerome
Boateng, who needs a shoulder operation.
Head coach Carlo Ancelotti says he already knows his line-up
and it's more than likely Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery will start on the
While Leipzig impressed against Hertha, Bayern were
lacklustre in Sunday's 1-0 win at Darmstadt which was settled by a superb goal
from Douglas Costa.
"We took three very important points, without which it
would have been difficult on Wednesday against RB Leipzig," said Bayern
goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
"But we can't be satisfied with the performance -- that
wasn't FC Bayern today and Wednesday will be a duel between equals."
An unthinkable defeat would mean Bayern go into the winter
break with the German media inevitably asking all sorts of uncomfortable
questions of Ancelotti's star-studded squad.
"The respect is huge and it's going to be a demanding
test. We will have to put in a top performance, a standard one isn't going to
be good enough against a team like that," said Hummels.For
the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us
on Twitter and like our Facebook page.