How Bayern Munich Are Hunting Down Leverkusen For Bundesliga Title

How Bayern Munich Are Hunting Down Leverkusen For Bundesliga Title

Isaac Darko
February 29, 2024 at 4:48 PM
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Bayern Munich
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  • Bayern Munich will lock horns against Freiburg on Friday
  • The Bavarians are eight points behind leaders Leverkusen
  • Leverkusen who are pushing for a first-ever Bundesliga title

Eight points behind leaders Leverkusen, Bayern Munich have cast themselves in the unfamiliar role of "hunters" with one third of the season remaining.

Bayern have 11 matches to close the gap on Xabi Alonso's unbeaten side who are pushing for a first-ever Bundesliga crown.

Bayern Munich, Bundesliga
Bayern Munich forward Harry Kane has 27 goals in 23 games in the Bundesliga this season.Photo: Filippo Monteforte
Source: Getty Images

Eight points behind leaders Leverkusen, Bayern Munich have cast themselves in the unfamiliar role of "hunters" with one third of the season remaining.

Bayern have 11 matches to close the gap on Xabi Alonso's unbeaten side who are pushing for a first-ever Bundesliga crown.

New Bayern sporting director Max Eberl told reporters his side, who have won the past 11 Bundesliga titles were "now playing the role of the hunter".

Bayern play away at Freiburg on Friday, the same day Eberl officially starts work.

Since Leverkusen's dominant 3-0 home win over Bayern earlier in February, Alonso's side have played before Thomas Tuchel's side each weekend, throwing down the gauntlet to the under-pressure Bavarians.

With Leverkusen however now in action mostly on Sundays due to midweek Europa League commitments, Bayern can up the pressure on Alonso's men by playing first most weekends.

After three straight losses equalled their worst run since 2015, Bayern beat RB Leipzig last week, albeit needing a stoppage-time strike from Harry Kane.

With Bayern on the verge of a last 16 exit in the Champions League, Tuchel had one eye fixed on Tuesday's home clash with Lazio, with the Italian side holding a 1-0 advantage.

An eight-point lead at this point of the season has never been chased down in the history of the Bundesliga.

Bayern however will be hoping that their winning history, along with five-time runners-up Leverkusen's reputation for finishing second will give them an advantage in the final stretch.

Before that match, Tuchel had said "we are the last ones who will stop believing."

One to watch: Nathan Tella (Bayer Leverkusen)

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Nathan Tella has four goals in 14 league appearances this season
Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Nathan Tella has four goals in 14 league appearances this season.Photo: Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV
Source: AFP

Bayer Leverkusen have had several players hit career-best form this season under Xabi Alonso -- but few have risen as far as forward Nathan Tella.

An Arsenal junior who spent most of his time in the lower divisions, the 24-year-old arrived in summer from Southampton, having impressed in a loan spell at Burnley.

The lightning-quick Tella has only improved since arriving in Germany -- an achievement recognised by a Nigeria call-up.

He played a crucial role up front in Leverkusen's 3-0 defeat of Bayern Munich which put the unbeaten side on course for a debut Bundesliga title.

Speaking with the Bundesliga website on Thursday, Tella credits Alonso for keeping the side focused.

"He doesn't get too carried away. He doesn't think too far in the future, only the next game and how to improve.
"If we won a game 3-0, he will look at why we didn't win 4-0.
"We strive to be the best as a team -- he brings that out of us."

Key stats

61- Bayer Leverkusen have 61 points with one third of the season remaining. Last year, Bayern Munich won the title with 71.

5 - Only five points separate Hoffenheim in seventh and Bochum in 15th in the Bundesliga's mid-table traffic jam.

13 - Freiburg's Vincenzo Grifo has converted his past 13 penalties in a row in the Bundesliga.

Fixtures (1430 GMT unless stated)

Friday

Freiburg v Bayern Munich (1930)

Saturday

Mainz v Borussia Moenchengladbach, Heidenheim v Eintracht Frankfurt, Union Berlin v Borussia Dortmund, Darmstadt v Augsburg, Bochum v RB Leipzig, Wolfsburg v Stuttgart (1730)

Sunday

Cologne v Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim v Werder Bremen (1630)

Authors
Isaac Darko photo
Isaac Darko
Isaac Darko is a La Liga, Ligue 1 and Bundesliga editor at Sports Brief with a Degree in Journalism and Communications from Ghana Institute of Journalism (2010)