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Leverkusen v Bayern Munich (Fri 7.30pm)
Leverkusen’s 14-match unbeaten run in all competitions will be sternly tested as the Bundesliga gets back under way with Bayern visiting the BayArena.
The champions are 11 points clear of nearest rivals Schalke at the halfway stage but for the restart, they’ll be without the division’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski.
It was in case of such eventualities that striker Sandro Wagner was signed from Hoffenheim during the winter break. The former Bayern academy product has become one of the division’s most reliable frontmen over the past few seasons.
Heynckes did not guarantee him a start in his pre-match press conference, where he also had to fend off yet more questions about whether he’ll consider staying at Bayern past the summer. Club president Uli Hoeness is very keen on retaining his old friend and players too have now been echoing those sentiments publicly.
It will take an almighty collapse for Bayern not to lift the title from here but Leverkusen are one of the few sides in the division who have the ability to give the champions a run for their money, at least over 90 minutes.
Winger Leon Bailey in particular had an outstanding first half of the season and will need to be watched closely. Coach Heiko Herrlich has tried to play down the expectations on his side, stressing that they’re the second youngest team in the division.
You wonder whether their momentum might have been checked slightly by the winter break and given Bayern’s steady improvement under Heynckes since his return, even without Lewandowski, an away win still looks the likeliest outcome here.
- Leverkusen 1, Bayern 2 (7-1, Unibet)
- Tolisso to score first (17-2, Unibet)
- Bayern win (83-100, Unibet)
Munich-born Raphael Honigstein writes about football for Germany’s biggest broadsheet, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the Guardian, ESPNFC and his tips appear here thanks to our football partner at MrFixitsTips, Unibet. They're making a big splash in the UK betting scene and if you join them today you can claim up to £30 in Welcome Bonuses when you deposit and place your first bet.