Ex-Bayern Munich midfielder Owen Hargreaves believes Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig can push his former club all the way in this season’s Bundesliga title race.
The Bavarians have won the German title a record 28 times and are heavy favourites to land another Bundesliga crown this term – a championship that would be their eighth domestic triumph on the spin.
However, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig, who are within striking distance of the defending champions, will be determined to battle hard with Bayern for Bundesliga silverware.
Remember – we’ll be covering all the the German top-flight action extensively with match previews and tips on our Bundesliga predictions page.
Bundesliga tight at the top
League leaders Munich have amassed 55 points from 25 games, while Lucien Favre’s exciting Dortmund team, which contains youthful superstars Jadon Sancho and Erling Braut Haaland, as well as talisman Marco Reus, are just four points back in second place.
Julian Nagelsmann’s Roten Bullen are five points shy of Bayern’s current total, but in Timo Werner, Leipzig have one of the Bundesliga’s most potent attacking weapons, while their head-to-head record against the division’s top sides also holds promise.
Bayern Munich’s route to the top has been bumpier than usual this season. They sacked Niko Kovac in November after an unconvincing opening gambit and replaced him with Hans-Dieter Flick, initially on a caretaker basis, before rewarding the former assistant’s excellent performance with a permanent deal in April this year.
Flick took the reins at the Allianz Arena with Bayern in fourth spot, however, through his ingenuity and tactical nous Bayern were restored to the Bundesliga’s summit by February, while positive progress has also been made in the DFB Pokal and the Champions League.
Hargreaves predicts more drama
While Bayern are firmly in the driving seat with Flick continuing to excel, Owen Hargreaves, who spent eight years with the club before moving to Man Utd in 2007, believes the title race is far from over.
Speaking in a recent interview, the former England international said: “It [Bundesliga] is definitely more exciting than the Premier League this season.
“The Champions League places are always so important and for once someone is pushing Bayern Munich.”
He added: “Bayern are the favourites but I think Dortmund have a realistic chance. So do Leipzig.
“I think there is an opportunity there for Dortmund or Leipzig or Gladbach to try and pounce on Bayern’s mistakes.”
Bundesliga weekend fixture outlook
Both Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig, who play on Saturday, have a chance to put some pressure on Bayern ahead of the Bavarians first game back on Sunday afternoon.
Dortmund host Schalke in the Revierderby on Saturday in a fixture they have developed a habit of performing poorly in. Remarkably, BVB haven’t won any of their last eight meetings with their local rivals, though the combined incentive of winning points and bragging rights should prove a powerful motivator.
Earlier this season, David Wager’s improving Schalke outfit held Dortmund to a 0-0 draw, though it should prove difficult to keep Favre’s fliers out again at the Signal Iduna Park. Dortmund haven’t failed to score there all season long and have notched more goals at home (41) overall than an other competitor in the division.
RB Leipzig kick back into gear the same day with a winnable looking home tie against Freiburg. Die Adler shocked Leipzig earlier in the season with a 2-1 smash and grab win over their more illustrious visitors at the Schwarzwald-Stadion, however a repeat result looks unlikely..
Die Roten Bullen will be out to exact a measure of revenge on Saturday, and with the aforementioned Werner keen to impress his summer suitors, a home win looks certain. The German international has scored a sensational 10 times in 11 appearances against Freiburg, and is worth backing as an anytime goalscorer against them again this week.
On Sunday, Bayern Munich travel to the capital to take on Union Berlin. The champions just about eked out a 2-1 win the reverse Bundesliga meeting between the pair last year, however, if Bayern are on their game and fully focused, they should find the going more comfortable this time around.
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