Runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich head to the Red Bull Arena to face RB Leipzig in the German top flight this weekend.
The Bavarians are 26 points clear of their rivals in the hunt for the title and it’ll be a case of damage limitation for the hosts given how poor they’ve been in the league this term.
Bayern can’t rest on their laurels and expect a routine win, however, due to Leipzig’s talented squad, and these three key battles could go some way to helping decide the outcome of this tasty encounter:
3. Timo Werner vs Jerome Boateng
Leipzig’s top scorer once again, 22-year-old Werner will carry the burden of bagging the goals that may be necessary to ending Bayern’s domestic winning run.
The striker has bagged 17 goals in all competitions so far this term, but will come up against a formidable backline that doesn’t ship goals easily.
Werner will come face-to-face with international teammates Boateng and Mats Hummels on home soil, and his clash with the former should make for a good personal tussle.
If Werner can utilise his pace and movement to break the lines of Bayern, he may yet be the difference maker in Saxony.
2. Robert Lewandowski vs Yvon Mvogo
Down the opposite end of the field Bayern superstar Lewandowski will hope to continue his remarkable streak in front of goal.
The Poland international has plundered 32 goals in 36 appearances in all competitions and will back himself to notch the deciding strikes against this weekend’s opponents.
Standing in his way will be Leipzig shot stopper Mvogo, who may end up being a one-man army as he bids to keep Bayern’s attackers at bay.
It promises to be a clash of epic proportions and whichever player succeeds in coming on top will have a massive say on where the points lie at the end of Sunday.
1. Naby Keita vs Arturo Vidal
Key to both teams’ chances of winning will be their ability to retain – and win back – the ball, which is where Leipzig’s and Bayern’s two midfield enforcers will come into play.
Both Keita and Vidal are rough in the tackle, have stamina levels to last the full 90 minutes, can pick a pass and score the odd goal or two when required.
It makes for an intriguing centre midfield battle between the pair and much will depend on how they settle into proceedings in a bid to out-do the other.
If the Guinea international or Chile star can best the other in a battle of physical and mental wills then it will likely be the biggest factor on who wins this weekend.