Bayern Munich are bracing themselves for a tough challenge ahead, as they take on Bayer Leverkusen this Sunday afternoon.

After signing off for the international break with a disappointing 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayern Munich will be hoping to get back on track when the Bundesliga returns this weekend after a weeklong hiatus.

However, the Rekordmeister have an even tougher task at hand as they take on Bayer Leverkusen at Bay Arena on Sunday. It is arguably going to be the most challenging contest yet for the visitors this season, as their high-flying opponent has been the most improved team in the Bundesliga this season.

Leverkusen are indeed enjoying a fine season and currently placed second in the Bundesliga table, level on points with leaders Bayern. It appears the appointment of Gerardo Seoane has worked wonders for Die Werkself, though it is fair to point out that they were in a similar, if not better, situation last season, only to get dismantled by Bayern.

The defeat just before the winter break not only hampered Leverkusen’s winning momentum under Peter Bosz but also affected their morale, as they went to miss out on top four entirety after leading the table around the halfway mark. The hosts will be keen on avoiding such a scenario this time around, up against the Bavarians, who are ready to get back to winning ways.

Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this crucial Bundesliga encounter this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Bayer Leverkusen

Robert Andrich will be a huge miss for Leverkusen, with the former Union Berlin midfielder facing a suspension. He could have offered that physical presence in midfield that would have been useful in dealing with the likes of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka.

But in his absence, the onus will be on Charles Aranguiz and Kerem Demirbay to offer that solidity in the middle of the park. Demirbay is certainly the more attack-minded of the two, which might be a problem given the quality of the opposition. But with Andrich suspended and Julian Baumgartlinger lacking match fitness, Seoane doesn’t have any other option.

Defensively, the fullbacks for Leverkusen in Mitchell Bakker and Jeremie Frimpong have been the two revelations, thanks to their ability to exploit space out wide. But on Sunday, they will be tasked with a more defensive role, as they look to keep the Bayern wingers at bay, while occasionally providing the attacking support to wingers Moussa Diaby and Amine Adli respectively.

In central defence, Jonathan Tah and new signing Odilon Kossounou have built a formidable partnership this season. But they will have their work cut out against the well-oiled attacking machine that is Bayern Munich. And it is almost needless to say that goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky will need to be at the top of his game, perhaps even producing a memorable performance like Kevin Trapp in Bayern’s last game.

As for the attack, Florian Wirtz should form Leverkusen’s creative trifecta alongside Adli and Diaby. All of these dynamic attackers will hope to provide the service upfront for lone striker Patrik Schick, who is in a great run of form at the moment.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hradecky; Frimpong, Kossounou, Tah, Bakker; Demirbay, Aranguiz; Diaby, Wirtz, Adli; Schick


Bayern Munich

Julian Nagelsmann will have to make some key decisions, as far as his team selection is concerned. One of his key defenders Benjamin Pavard is serving a red card suspension, meaning Niklas Sule and Josip Stanisic are fighting for a place at right-back this weekend.

A more pressing issue will be in central defence. Lucas Hernandez is available despite his legal debacle in midweek. It remains to be seen whether the Frenchman will be mentally fit for this clash, as he looks to marshall the Bayern backline alongside Dayot Upamecano, with Alphonso Davies serving as the left-back.

The pacy left-back was in great form for Canada during the international break. He will be hoping to maintain a similar level of performance against Leverkusen and should operate as a key outlet out wide, especially with his marauding runs forward. It will be an interesting battle between him and Diaby out wide.

There should be no changes in central midfield as Kimmich and Goretzka continue in the double-pivot. Nagelsmann might also retain his preferred creative trifecta in Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane.

The presence of two wingers could be vital in helping Bayern Munich exploit the attack-minded Leverkusen fullbacks. Moreover, it gives the additional edge on the counter, though the youngster Jamal Musiala’s creative brilliance could always be required later on in the proceedings.

Robert Lewandowski, meanwhile, is set to spearhead the Bayern Munich attack. The Pole has not scored in his last two Bundesliga matches and it will be interesting to see whether Bayer Leverkusen can extend that run to three games this weekend.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer – Sule, Upamecano, Hernandez, Davies – Kimmich, Goretzka – Gnabry, Muller, Sane – Lewandowski


Key Stats

  • Florian Wirtz has scored, assisted or both in all eight of his competitive club appearances this season.
  • Patrik Schick is averaging a goal every 91 minutes in this season’s Bundesliga (six in seven games).
  • Bayer Leverkusen have scored a club record 20 goals after seven matches of a Bundesliga season.
  • Robert Lewandowski is set to move up to joint-second with Naldo on the Bundesliga’s list of all-time foreign appearance-makers with 358. Claudio Pizarro leads the way on 490.
  • Bayern have not lost two league games in a row since going down to Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach in November-December 2019. They haven’t been stopped from scoring since February 2020.

Player to Watch

Florian Wirtz

Florian Wirtz is arguably the biggest U-19 talent in the Bundesliga right now, ahead of even the likes of Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala and Giovanni Reyna. The youngster, after all, has been the central figure behind Leverkusen’s incredible season under Gerardo Seoane so far.

In just eight competitive matches this season, Wirtz has already been involved in 11 goals while making four appearances for the German national team. His stock is rising even further as the youngster continues to mesmerise the onlookers with his craft, dynamism and skill on the ball.

A strong showing against Bayern Munich could further increase his confidence while also boosting his chances of landing the Golden Boy award this season, ahead of  Bellingham, Pedri and Musiala.


Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Bayern Munich

Bayer Leverkusen are typically known for losing games of this magnitude. But under Seoane, they have been transformed into one of the strongest teams and most resilient teams in Germany, which boasts a balanced team that can get the better of their opposition.

The absence of Andrich will be a massive blow, but Die Werkself have what it takes to land another big upset for Bayern Munich and move into the top spot by the end of this weekend’s round of fixtures.

Comments 1

  1. Bitebo Hamis says:

    Home 2 win this game

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