Soccer Germany Bundesliga 20 March 2023
Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich - Match Preview
Bayer Leverkusen continued their UEFA Europa League charge by cruising past Ferencváros 4-0 on aggregate to reach the quarter-finals, but their attention now turns back to the Bundesliga and ensuring they return to the continental stage next term. Their worst-ever top-flight start left them with work to do, but an uptick in form since Xabi Alonso’s appointment as manager and recent back-to-back league victories have reignited their chase for the top-six, although they’re still six points adrift ahead of this round.
Alonso now gets his first crack at former employers Bayern Munich where he ended his stellar playing career. The Spaniard has ‘nice memories’ of his time with the Rekordmeister, but wants his team to play with ‘maturity’ against the German champions, something that’ll be necessary if they’re to break a six-game winless H2H streak in the Bundesliga (D1, L5), which included a 4-0 thrashing in this season’s reverse fixture.
That forms part of Bayern’s historical dominance of this fixture in which they boast a daunting overall H2H advantage (W59, D18, L19), though the Bundesliga juggernauts don’t have much breathing space at the Bundesliga summit, with Borussia Dortmund trailing by just two points heading into the weekend. Julian Nagelsmann’s men held their nerve last time out however, following up beating PSG in the Champions League with a rollercoaster 5-3 victory over Augsburg, even if the manager described their performance as ‘not brilliant’.
While he may not have been satisfied with his side’s defending in that game, netting five goals displayed his team’s attacking prowess with no league team coming close to matching their 71 strikes in the Bundesliga. Bayern are often similarly ruthless on their travels, with the pision’s best away side having lost just once on the road in all competitions since September (W10, D2), and all signs appear to point to that run continuing here.
📋 Players to watch: Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukáš Hrádecký may be kept busy, especially considering he’s kept just one clean sheet against Bayern throughout his career (W3, D3, L11). Testing his resolve could be Thomas Müller, who has directly contributed to 18 goals in 28 meetings (G9, A9) versus Leverkusen (W17, D7, L4).
⚡ Hot stat: Bayern has scored 25 goals between the 31st minute and half-time, more than double the total of any other side in the pision ahead of this round.
Mainz vs Freiburg - Match Preview
The weekend’s Bundesliga action closes with a potentially crucial game in terms of the race for Europe, as Mainz host Freiburg with the side’s separated by just two places and nine points ahead of the round. Mainz’s longest winning run since the Thomas Tuchel era (2011) came to a halt with a 1-1 draw against Hertha last time out (W4, D1), yet with two of the three sides above them playing each other this round, this contest presents an opportunity to cut the gap to the top-six.
Not since 2015/16 have Mainz held a top-seven spot after 24 rounds of a Bundesliga season. That’s largely down to the fact that they’ve accrued as many points as the league leaders, Bayern Munich, from the second half of the season (W5, D1, L1). Building on that success isn’t beyond the realms of possibility either, as the Zerofivers have picked up more points against Freiburg (48) than any other Bundesliga side, only losing one of the last 13 H2Hs at home (W8, D4, L1).
A gruelling midweek encounter with Juventus saw Freiburg’s European adventure come to an end (3-0 agg) and could hamper their preparations for this game. Even so, Freiburg continues to defy the odds after their sixth-placed finish last season and are still just about in the title race, entering this round fifth in the standings seven points off the pace.
That’s some going for a side that was aiming to avoid relegation this season according to the Bundesliga’s longest-serving manager, Christian Streich. Freiburg’s stability across 11 years continues to pay pends, with the side sitting on their highest points tally at this stage of a season during the three-points-for-a-win era. However, they’ve been erratic on their travels, conceding 3+ goals or none at all in each of their last six domestic trips (W2, D1, L3).
📋 Players to watch: Leandro Barreiro has four goal contributions across his last five Mainz appearances (G2, A2), accounting for 80% of his 2022/23 total. For Freiburg, Ritsu Dōan’s goal in the last round extended his run of scoring club appearances without defeat to 19 games (W18, D1).
⚡ Hot stat: Just six of Freiburg’s 45 points have been picked up when starting as pre-match outsiders (W1, D2, L5).
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