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Bayern vs. Leipzig - an experts' view

December 20, 2016

Who will take the title of winter champions on Wednesday? Who sits in the driving seat in the race for the title? DW's Bundesliga experts give their predictions for the most eagerly awaited clash of 2016.

Kombobild Timo Werner RB Leipizig und Robert Lewandowski FC Bayern München

Jonathan Harding: Bayern's individual class still matters

Everything points to Leipzig beating Bayern on Wednesday night. Bayern have largely been slow and lethargic in the league, whereas Leipzig have been fast and ferocious. Bayern are still adjusting to Carlo Ancelotti, Leipzig are flying under Ralph Hasenhüttl. And yet, as Bayern showed on the weekend against Darmstadt, that can matter little in 90 minutes. While the Bavarians will be facing a much tougher task on Wednesday night than on Sunday, they still, as always, have numerous players that can win the game with a single act of brilliance.

That, and Bayern's big-game experience, will play a role. Bayern still have one of the best goalkeepers in the world, a striker at the top of his game and Arjen Robben.

Leipzig will have their system, their strut and their speed but even if Bayern don't look the same as they used to, they still retain that element of Bayern that still makes them fearsome. As much as the Bundesliga wants one, there won't be a winner this time around. That won't matter, but the next time the two meet will be on the final day of the season and that could be quite the finish.

Prediction: Bayern 1-1 RB Leipzig

Ross Dunbar: Ferocious tempo will be too much for Bayern

Red Bull love to make emphatic statements. It's been a fundamental part of the company's rise. Red Bull, the power behind newly-promoted RB Leipzig, would love nothing more than topple Bayern at the Allianz Arena when the eyes of the world will be on the Bundesliga.

It would be fitting of Hasenhüttl's side to close this monumental first chapter of RB Leipzig's Bundesliga history with a win at the home of the champions. Don't expect their game plan to change: they will sit in a low block, press hard and throw the ball forward. Timo Werner will be dangerous in attack, with Emil Forsberg the main creator behind. If fit, Naby Keita (perhaps the pick of the bunch) will shift between defense and attack with outstanding stamina.

The key will be how Bayern react to that. Dealing with strong pressing teams has been a problem since Carlo Ancelotti's arrival this summer. Bayern have lumbered towards the top of the league and have relied on individual class rather than collective strength. The likes of Xabi Alonso and Thomas Müller, who have yet to click this season, will be targets for Hasenhüttl's team in Munich. If both teams perform like they've shown this season, then Leipzig will take the spoils.

Prediction: Bayern 1-2 RB Leipzig

Bundesliga SC Freiburg - RB Leipzig
Leipzig will also face Bayern in the final game of the seasonImage: Picture-Alliance/dpa/P. Seeger

Felix Tamsut: History will edge past the future

The most-anticipated match of the season has the potential to be a key moment in the history of the ambitious Red Bull project. Beating Bayern at the Allianz Arena would be a landmark in the club’s short history - a history nothing like their opponents. And that’s exactly what’s going to hinder their chances of winning it.

RB Leipzig’s rise to Bundesliga fame can be attributed to many things, but it’s hard to argue that one of the most significant ones is the club’s policy of keeping the squad as young and exciting as possible. Players with little or no Bundesliga experience - Keita, Forsberg and Werner to name but a few - have been chosen by Ralf Rangnick and Hasenhüttl to make the case for the seven-year-old club in Germany’s top league, and results have been nothing short of impressive.

But Leipzig’s young, vibrant brand of football also holds the key to their downfall when it comes to facing the Bundesliga powerhouse that is Bayern Munich: The Bavarians know how to win when it matters. Their entire system is built upon the idea of winning at all costs, regardless of the opponent. While Bayern haven’t been brilliant this season, Ancelotti is a manager that made his name from thriving when it comes to the crunch, and this match certainly promises to live up to that label. 

While RB Leipzig may be the future, their lack of a past will be their missing link come Wednesday.

Prediction: Bayern 2-0 RB Leipzig

UEFA Champions League FC Bayern München vs. Club Atletico de Madrid
Bayern's quality is both collective and individualImage: Getty Images/Bongarts/M. Hitij

Chuck Penfold: Bayern's experience and quality tip the tie in their favor

RB Leipzig will arrive in the Bavarian capital brimming with confidence after bouncing back from their surprising first Bundesliga defeat against relegation candidates Ingolstadt on Matchday 14. Ralph Hasenhüttl's men, with their fast-paced, counterattacking style, can be expected to cause a few headaches for the Bayern defense, particularly in the absence of the injured (again) Jerome Boateng. However, the Red Bulls may alsobe without a key player in central midfielder Naby Keita.

Since they opened the season with a 5-0 win over Werder Bremen, Bayern have seldom - if at all - fired on all cylinders, but so far they have done enough to fight off a challenge from the upstarts from the east - even if they are only ahead of RB on goal difference. Yet while they at times have almost seemed lethargic under Carlo Ancelotti, they still have the quality that can win games when the flow of play suggests you had no business doing so. Bayern's 1-0 victory in Darmstadt on Sunday was a case in point.

There is no question that both teams will be up for this match, one that Bundesliga fans have been eagerly anticipating for weeks now. Arjen Robben, who was rested on Sunday is expected to return, as may captain Phillip Lahm. Despite Leipzig's form, Ancelotti and a much older and experienced Bayern side know what it takes to win the big games. Besides, would anybody really want to face the wrath of CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge should they lose?

Reluctant prediction: Bayern 3-2 RB Leipzig