It’s advantage Bayern and the record champions now have match point as they look to wrap up a seventh straight Bundesliga title on the penultimate matchday. With a win at third-placed RB Leipzig on Saturday (kick-off at 15:30 CEST, coverage available via our live ticker), FCB will secure a 29th German championship. “We’ve got two match points and want to try and take the first at Leipzig,” said coach Niko Kovac ahead of the final away game of the season.
However, the 47-year-old tactician knows that Leipzig will hand over no gifts as they look to extend their 14-match unbeaten run in the league. “We’re talking about a very good team, a very good coach, under whom they’ve managed a remarkable run in the second half of the season. But so have we. It’ll be an interesting game,” Kovac prophesised. Should the Reds draw or lose, their title ambitions will be dependent on the result between Borussia Dortmund and Fortuna Düsseldorf, which will be played at the same time.
“We all know we can win our first title of the season in Saturday’s game,” added Serge Gnabry. The winger is on the verge of his maiden Bundesliga title, and like the rest of the team he wants to secure that as early as possible. “None of us want to wait until the Frankfurt game. We’re working with focus, we’re working hard. We need to be 100 per cent ready on Saturday and then wrap up the first trophy.”
No Neuer or Martinez for FCB
Kovac is expecting a “very tight game” against a team known for its quick counter-attacking play. “We have to cover ourselves from top to bottom,” he added. A game away at Leipzig is “never an easy task, but you want these games where you can prove yourself,” said Thomas Müller, who will once again lead Bayern out as captain in place of the injured Manuel Neuer. As well as Neuer, the record champions are also without Javi Martinez, who is out with a knock.
Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick, on the other hand, can pick from a fully fit squad for the first of two meetings with Bayern in the space of two weeks. Only Kevin Kampl (suspended) is unavailable for a team currently unbeaten in 17 competitive matches. Leipzig haven’t lost since the opening weekend of 2019 against Dortmund (1-0). “We’ve set ourselves the goal in the changing room of remaining unbeaten until the end of the season,” said midfielder Kampl.
Rangnick also announced that he will put out his best possible side for their final home game of 2018/19. “We want to press Bayern and if possible beat them, but not to annoy them, it’s for self-interest,” stressed the head coach. Leipzig have secured third place in the Bundesliga and with it Champions League qualification for next season, so Rangnick believes the pressure is on the Munich club. “Bayern have to get a result. We don’t have to but we want to.” A positive result would also have “a psychological effect on the cup final,” the 60-year-old believes. “Ideally we’d like to win both games”.