The Battle for the Bundesliga Heats Up
Three teams (Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, and RB Leipzig) are all within striking distance - a single win away - from each other.
People across Germany braced themselves for a showdown between RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich. The result was a draw - which isn’t entirely a bad thing. It prevents one club from having a clear advantage over the other, thus making for a more exciting and thrilling fight. Following the winter break, Bayern won three games in a row while scoring a dozen goals in the process. The other top two contenders, Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund, dropped a few points in their respective title race.
The first half of the season was, in a nutshell, unpredictable. Bayern looked like they were tugging hard on their strings just to come up with a win. However, when Hansi Flick replaced Niko Kovac back in November, their form seemed to improve but was essentially dead in the water. But one thing about Bayern is that when they play well, they win, and when they win, it’s more often than not by a large enough margin. Injuries may have plagued them and they may have looked weaker than they were supposed to, but after suffering back-to-back losses, they seemed to have found their rhythm.
Though they may not have the best record this season, they still have the grittiest defensive record, the top scorer, and most importantly, they are at the top of the league table. They lean on Robert Lewandowski for the most part but they have very capable players such as Thomas Müller and Jérôme Boateng who may very well be on their way out of the club. They have substitutes in the calibre of Philippe Coutinho, Kingsley Coman and Lucas Hernandez. Ivan Perišić, Javi Martínez and Niklas Süle are still awaiting clearance so they can return from injury. Nevertheless, the squad seems pretty healthy.
Leipzig, similar to Bayern, are just as or even more reliant on their star striker, Timo Werner. Heading into Christmas, they were atop the league table but failed to continue their momentum after the winter break. Since then, they’ve lost seven points. They are still second in the league, a single point behind Bayern. Their recent draw against Munich now gives them something they can work with.
Dortmund’s forward line, compared to the two, is completely different. They don’t have the classic mittelstürmer that the other two clubs have, but they have their captain, Marco Reus, to lead them. Alongside him are young players such as Jadon Sancho, Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard who are more than capable of wreaking havoc on their opponents’ defences. Add in Erling Braut Haaland to the equation and it’s not difficult to see why Dortmund are the top scorers in the league. Despite their offensive gifts, it’s in the defensive end where work needs to be done. Only seven clubs have allowed more goals than them. Even if their forwards are scoring almost at will (especially Haaland whose averaging a goal every 32 minutes), they cannot expect to keep up the pace all season long.
With 12 games remaining in the season, it’s safe to say that it still is anyone’s game - or for this matter, any club’s title. Leipzig and Dortmund have a few challenging weeks ahead. Leipzig is scheduled to take on Schalke and Wolfsburg. Dortmund will face Mönchengladbach before the Revierderby against Schalke.
Words: Carlos Corpus