Bayer Leverkusen vs RB Leipzig: How do they compare?
As Bayer Leverkusen and RB Leipzig battle for a top-four spot and UEFA Champions League football next season, bundesliga.com enforces the rule on where Sunday’s clash at the BayArena could be won or lost.
Patrik Schick vs. Christopher Nkunku
As Leverkusen welcomed their top scorer back from injury on Matchday 29, the Leipzig attack leader added another goal and an assist to their tally.
Nkunku now has 17 league strikes and 12 supplies to his name this season and the Frenchman has been his side’s main creative spark as a Die Roten Bullen have moved within one point of Die Werkself with five games to go.
Watch: The evolution of Nkunku
Schick – with 20 goals and second behind Robert Lewandowski (32) in the league goalscoring chart – is one of only two players with more Bundesliga goals to his name than Nkunku in 2021/22 and his return comes at timely as Leverkusen look to delay their Round 30 visitors’ charge.
The Czech striker has gone 102 minutes without scoring since returning from injury as the 26-year-old first came on as a late substitute in the 2-1 win over Hertha Berlin and then started the 0- 0 with Bochum last time.
Meanwhile, Nkunku has scored 10 times and provided seven assists in his last 12 top-flight outings in 2022 alone. And whoever can outplay the other this weekend is most likely to have a decisive impact on the outcome of this game and the battle for the top four.
Watch: All of Schick’s goals this season
Gerardo Seoane vs. Domenico Tedesco
Another contest to watch is in the dugouts, where two of the division’s top contenders for Coach of the Year go head-to-head.
Seoane, in his first season in the Bundesliga, was immensely impressive as he restored Leverkusen to a free-scoring side – whose white against Bochum was their first of the campaign – competing right at the top of the table after sneaking into the top six on the last day of last season.
It hasn’t been easy given the club’s terrible luck with injuries which saw the seasons of Florian Wirtz, Amine Adli, Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Jeremie Frimpong end prematurely, while injuries also deprived Seoane of the Schick’s services for seven matchdays.
Gerardo Seoane (2nd l.) has given Leverkusen something to smile about since taking over this season. – RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images
There were wins over Borussia Dortmund and Leipzig for Seoane, who also took a point over leaders Bayern Munich, while Tedesco’s impact has been even more impressive since the 36-year-old’s return to Germany in December.
Tedesco’s record 2.2 points per game in 15 Bundesliga appearances trumps Seoane’s 1.79 and the former Erzgebirge Aue and Schalke boss lifted Leipzig from 11th to a win by taking third place as the campaign comes to a dramatic conclusion.
The German-Italian has Die Roten Bullen on the charge at both ends of the field once again. They are now scoring more (2.6 goals per game) and conceding significantly less (0.87) than under their predecessor Jesse Marsch in the first 14 games of the campaign (1.8 scored; 1.3 conceded).
And he completely flipped their form on the outside ahead of their trip to the BayArena. Leipzig’s only mistake in six league games on the road in 2022 was at Bayern. Otherwise it’s five wins, with 21 goals scored. RB had only managed four points and scored just five goals in eight away matches before the winter break.
Watch: How Tedesco transformed Leipzig’s season
Two of the fittest teams of 2022
The stunning Leipzig turnaround that has unfolded since Tedesco took over the reins from Marsch has almost exclusively played out since the turn of the new year.
Their 29 points – from nine wins, two draws and just one loss – in 2022 are three more than leaders Bayern and Dortmund second and third respectively in the calendar year table.
The past few months have been breathtaking for Leipzig, who have also scored more goals (34) and conceded fewer times (nine) than any other top-flight side from January-April so far.
And it hasn’t been a bad 12 games Rückrunde neither for Leverkusen, who claim the league’s fourth-best comeback with 24 points, and have won four of six (W4, D1, L1) at the BayArena in 2022. Again, they’ve had to do a lot of that without talismen Wirtz and Schick.
That home record has a stern test ahead, against a Leipzig side with that near-perfect away form this year that includes a 4-1 win at Dortmund and a 6-1 victory over Greuther Fürth in their last two away matches.
Third-best offense vs. second-best defense
Leverkusen have taken the ‘attack is best for defence’ approach for much of this campaign, and their run of 68 goals after 29 games is behind only Dortmund (70) and Bayern (86), while Leipzig (64) ranks fourth in a direct reflection of the top four. It is also Die Werkselfis the second-best tally ever at this stage of a Bundesliga season.
Leipzig’s tally is even higher when it comes to league-best defensive records, trailing only Bayern (29), with just 31 goals conceded as it stands.
This puts Leipzig’s goal difference at +33 and, again, only Bayern (+57) are more in the red, while Leverkusen (+26) are the ones who rank fourth this time. And that could well be summed up in this very tight European race.
Whichever way you look at it, this game should be fascinating as two of Germany’s best and most exciting teams are in the hunt for next season’s title.