Bayern Munich take on Heidenheim on Saturday as the promoted side have the unenviable task of trying to stop the momentum of a team already battling Bayer Leverkusen for the season’s Bundesliga title.
Bayern and a skilful Bayer Leverkusen side coached by former Real Madrid and Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso go into the weekend as the only remaining unbeaten sides in the league.
Leverkusen, who host struggling Union Berlin on Sunday, lead the standings with 28 of a possible 30 points, two clear of second-placed Bayern, with third-placed Stuttgart already five points behind.
Leverkusen have only dropped points against Bayern, with the sides playing out a pulsating 2-2 draw in Munich in September.
Bayern head into their game after qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League thanks to a 2-1 win over Galatasaray on Wednesday thanks to a Harry Kane double. But the win came at a price with the loss of forward Jamal Musiala to a hamstring injury.
Any doubts that the top two are a focal point were put to rest last weekend, with each of the chasers — Stuttgart, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig — suffering desperate losses.
Stuttgart slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Heidenheim, their second straight defeat since losing talisman Serhou Guirassy to injury.
Dortmund were again handed their biennial victory by Bayern, losing 4-0 at home to snap their unbeaten run.
German Cup holders RB Leipzig were uncharacteristically drawn, losing 2-0 at bottom-placed Mainz, allowing the hosts their first win of the season.
Leverkusen midfielder Granit Xhaka, who joined from Arsenal in the summer, told Sportbild on Wednesday that “the young team had the hunger to achieve something big” this season.
The Switzerland captain however reminded his team “no team has ever won the title after 10 matches”.
It’s an experience Xhaka knows all too well after his Arsenal side were overtaken by Man City, having led for much of last season in the Premier League.
“We decide where we are at the end of the season. We have to win all our games — and then the other teams can do whatever they want,” Xhaka said.
Xhaka’s men face Union Berlin at home on Sunday. The omens for Union Berlin, stuck in a deep slump, are not good — Leverkusen won this game 5-0 last season.
While five-time runners-up Leverkusen may be dreaming of a first Bundesliga title, champions Bayern are just resting.
Thomas Tuchel’s side managed to keep up with Leverkusen despite a growing injury list, added to by Musiala, who is likely to be sidelined for several weeks with a hamstring injury.
Speaking after Galatasaray’s victory, Tuchel said he hoped his side could beat Heidenheim and go into the international break unscathed.
The break “is shocking” from a coach’s perspective, Tuchel said.
“You can take a few days off without a guilty conscience,” Tuchel said, clearly feeling safer than his predecessor Julian Nagelsmann, who was sacked while on a skiing holiday during an international break in March.
Midfielder Julian Brandt has been Borussia Dortmund’s creative spark this season, finally consistently delivering on his potential after showing flashes throughout his career.
Before Dortmund’s 4-0 drubbing by Bayern on Saturday, Brandt had scored or assisted in eight straight league games.
Brand called on his team-mates to toughen up after the Bayern defeat and stuck to his word as Dortmund beat Newcastle 2-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday, scoring the game-sealing goal late on.
The 27-year-old praised team-mate Karim Adejemi’s “sensational” pass before the goal and praised his team-mates for “not falling into a hole” after Bayern’s demolition.
15 in 10: Harry Kane has scored 15 goals in 10 league games for Bayern this season.
14 in eight: Stuttgart’s Serhou Guirassy, who could return from injury in Saturday’s game against Borussia Dortmund, just trails the England captain with 14 in eight.
38: Bayern have 38 goals after 10 games, a Bundesliga record. 23 of those have come from either Kane or Leroy Sane.
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