Battle between the Old and the New of German football
The stage is set for Germany’s most anticipated football contest thus far into the 2016-17 season.
FC Bayern Munich (11-3-1, 36 pts) will face one of the Bundesliga’s newest teams in the top flight, RB Leipzig (11-3-1, 36 pts) this Wednesday in Munich.
Bayern have yet to meet the East German club, who currently reside in second place behind the Bavarians only on goal-differential, 26 to 19.
Leipzig’s unprecedented start to the 2016-17 Bundesliga campaign has caught the eyes of all of Germany and Europe, but none more than its noisy neighbors down south in Bayern Munich, who set a Bundesliga-record for winning the league title four consecutive years last season.
The “Kings of German football” now face a legitimate threat to becoming the undisputed champions for a fifth straight year, all thanks to this small East German club from Leipzig who sat in the fifth division of German football just seven years ago.
Leipzig received promotion up two divisions before advancing from Bundesliga II last season to grant them sacred membership into the Bundesliga, where the Red Bulls astonishingly set a record for the longest undefeated streak of a promoted team to the Bundesliga (13 matches).
The Red Bull’s run of 13 weeks without a loss includes victories over some of Germany’s top clubs in Borussia Dortmund, VfL Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke 04 and Hertha Berlin.
Led by Austrian boss Ralph Hasenhüttl and 20-year-old German striker Timo Werner, Leipzig will now be put to the larger-than-life test against Germany’s richest and most-successful football club ever.
And don’t expect for the visitors to sit back at the Allianz Arena.
Red Bulls sporting director Ralf Rangnick told Sky Sports on Sunday, "We can't help but play for a win…we travel to Munich to get three points, if that's possible. You can't tackle the task with more ambition."
Rangnick went further: "We can't change our style of play, that's how much it is in our players…If we want to take points with it at Munich we have to give it our all. It's an absolute highlight for us, with Europe-wide attention. We can only win, even if we lose."
Bayern Munich is again missing center back Jerome Boateng, who will undergo surgery following a shoulder injury that has plagued him for weeks. Javi Martinez is expected to fill his shoes.
There is also a possibility Arjen Robben can return to the starting eleven at right wing after missing Bayern’s match in Darmstadt.
Leipzig is dealing with plenty of injuries on their side too. Midfielder Naby Keita is listed as doubtful after pulling his hamstring. Keita’s missing presence in the midfield will affect Leipzig’s ball movement against a possession-hungry Bayern attack. Luckily for the Red Bulls they still posses enough quality and chemistry on the ball to retain their extremely high-tempo pace of play.
Bayern will look to expose Leipzig at the center back position where both Marvin Compper and Kyriakos Papadopoulos are out with injuries.
When asked about the match, Leipzig boss Ralph Hasenhüttl explained its magnitude to reporters:
"It's a match which electrifies all of Germany and which will thrill people cross-border.”
Leipzig is the Bundesliga’s youngest team with an average age of 23.8 while Bayern is the league’s oldest at 28.8.
This is a must-see battle between Das Alte und Das Neu—the Old and the New of German football.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 1, RB Leipzig 1