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Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich preview: Can the “Werkself” take a giant step towards the title?

Bayer Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso called Stuttgart the “best opponent” he had faced at the BayArena this season, but that could all change as “Die Werkself” host Bayern Munich in a potentially title-defining clash.

Leverkusen are perhaps not in their best form, having needed a 90th-minute winner to reach the German Cup semi-finals and keep their hopes of an improbable treble alive.

That win also extended Leverkusen’s unbeaten run to 30 games (26W, 4D), two short of the all-time German football record, held by, unsurprisingly, Bayern. But Alonso’s men could step out of the shadows in more ways than one, as a victory in this titanic clash would see Leverkusen move five points clear of the defending champions and pile the pressure on them.

Thomas Tuchel’s Bayern Munich will no doubt have one eye on the game, as a win would see the “Rekordmeister” leapfrog Leverkusen and reclaim top spot in the Bundesliga for the first time since matchday five! Bayern’s 16 wins from 20 league games have not been enough so far, and it is the first time in Bundesliga history that two teams have had at least 50 points at this stage of the season.

One of the four times Bayern dropped points this season was in the reverse fixture, when they conceded a 94th-minute penalty to draw 2-2. Prior to their defeat at this ground last season, Bayern had won three consecutive league visits to the BayArena, scoring 11 goals in the process.

Players to watch: The key battle on the day could be between Florian Wirtz and Jamal Musiala, two of the most exciting young talents in German football. Wirtz has been directly involved in 23 goals in 28 appearances in all competitions this season (8 goals, 15 assists), while Musiala had a hand in three goals the last time Bayern beat Leverkusen, at home earlier this season (1 goal, 2 assists).

Hot stat: Bayern have scored before half-time in their last 13 Bundesliga meetings with Leverkusen.

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