Bundesliga awaits nail-biting duel between Leverkusen and Bayern

When it comes to fans' predictions, the German top-flight duel between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich this Saturday is a nail-biter.

While 40 percent predict

a win for each side in a survey run by the sports magazine Kicker, 20 percent expect a draw when the top two teams meet.

Alphonso Davies (L) of Bayern Munich vies with Jeremie Frimpong of Leverkusen during a German first division Bundesliga football match in Munich, Germany, Sept. 15, 2023. (Photo by Philippe Ruiz/Xinhua)

Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso expects a mind challenge with the more determined team enjoying an advantage. Regarding statistics, the league's best defense (Leverkusen/14 goals conceded) will encounter the best attacking line (Bayern/59 goals scored).

As the only unbeaten side in the current campaign, Leverkusen must rely on its defense and powerful midfield passing machine around Granit Xhaka and Florian Wirtz.

Due to the injury absence of its top striker Victor Boniface, Leverkusen is lacking quality up front as replacement Patrik Schick hasn't scored in 2024 while new arrival Borja Iglesias finds himself amidst a process of adjustment.

Meanwhile, Bayern is suffering from significant losses in its defense as Kim Min-jae just returned from the AFC Asian Cup while Alphonso Davies, Konrad Laimer and Dayot Upamecano are most likely sidelined due to injury, not to speak of Joshua Kimmich through a shoulder injury and Matthijs de Ligt, who just came back after injury.

19-year-old rookie Aleksandar Pavlovic is said to replace Kimmich alongside Leon Goretzka.

Manuel Neuer is a doubt as the 37-year-old goalkeeper is taking a training break until Friday due to a knee injury, and he might be replaced by Sven Ulreich.

Leverkusen has an advantage when it comes to the 2023-24 season title race, being two points ahead of Bayern.

While Leverkusen is enjoying a flow triggered by its German Cup quarterfinal win over Stuttgart, Bayern needs to gain three points to overtake the rival.

Alonso highlighted his team's spirit after several last-minute victories "as we never give up."

In Saturday's encounter, Bayern seems to depend on the experience of 34-year-old Thomas Muller, who has slipped into the role of a substitute over the past weeks.

While Alonso is praised for playing the league's most attractive football, the Spaniard is facing ongoing rumors he might leave after this season, with Liverpool mentioned as a possible new destination.