presented by
Bayern v Bayer

League’s best attacks go head-to-head

In the biggest game of the 14th round of matches in the Bundesliga, leaders FC Bayern welcome third-placed Bayer Leverkusen to the Allianz Arena on Saturday evening (Live in English from 18:30 / 6.30 pm on Twitter and Web Radio). Two and a half weeks before Christmas, the fans can “look forward to another genuinely top match,” Bayern chairman Karl Heinz Rummenigge declared. FCB are top of the table on 33 points with Bayer currently on 23.

“It’s the meeting between two teams who both qualified for the Champions League Round of 16 with matches to spare, who are both in contention in the DFB Cup, and have both had an excellent first half of the season so far,” Rummenigge continued. The chairman issued a stern warning prior to the clash with the Werkself: “It’ll be anything but easy. We’ll have to be exceptionally focused and motivated if we’re to maintain the nice seven-point lead we’ve earned ourselves.”

Lead could increase

Should FCB win, the cushion could rise to ten points in the event VfL Wolfsburg lose away to Hannover 96 in the afternoon. In this case, FCB would emulate their feat from 2012/13 and be crowned unofficial ‘Autumn Champions’ three matches before the end of the first half of the campaign. It would mean the Reds being top of the league at Christmas for the 20th time in all and the fourth time in a row, an unparalleled achievement in Bundesliga history.

However, this possible scenario is far from a priority in the dressing room, as Arjen Robben confirmed: “It’s not especially important to us,” the Dutchman said. The important thing is to beat Leverkusen, who have only lost one of their last nine games. “We have four more Bundesliga fixtures [before Christmas] and we want to win them all so we’re nicely out in front for the winter break.” However, Robben is fully aware that Saturday’s match could be taxing work.

Attacking fireworks

“I think it’ll be very difficult. Leverkusen won’t come to our place and just shut up shop. They play a very intense game and they’ll press us high up the field,” continued the winger. The match could well be an attacking spectacle as it pits the best attack in the league (Bayern, 35 goals) against the second best (25), with Leverkusen loosing off the highest number of shots (246) and Bayern the second-highest (243). Leverkusen duo Karim Bellarabi (54 shots) and Hakan Calhanoglu (52) are the only players in the Bundesliga with more than 50 attempts at goal.

The men from the Rhineland are experts at attacking their opponents early  and in Calhanoglu boast a true dead-ball specialist: five of the former Hamburg starlet’s six goals have come from direct free-kicks. “It’ll be a fierce fight,” Robben acknowledged. On the selection front, there has been no change in the league leaders’ injury situation and the squad will be the same or very similar to the last two matches against Manchester City and Hertha BSC.

Latest news from Leverkusen

  • Unavailable: Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Stefan Reinartz (both sports rehab)

  • Coach Roger Schmidt: ”The game in Munich is a massive challenge. Bayern are very settled and boast enormously high individual quality. Their clear strategy, tactical discipline and especially their team spirit have brought them very good results. We have to believe in ourselves. We have to make sure we go out and do the things we know we can do well. I’m optimistic we’re capable of creating chances. If we also don’t neglect our defending, we could be awkward opponents for Bayern.”