Out-of-form Bayern entertains Leverkusen

A rattled Bayern Munich team, winless in the last three matches, hosts Bayer Leverkusen which has not won at the Allianz Arena in the last four years.

Bayern Munich players walk off the field after the loss against FC Rostov.   -  AP

Faltering Bayern Munich hopes to break its second mini winless streak this season when it hosts Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday to launch its counter-attack on top spot in Germany.

For the first time since September 2015, second-placed Bayern does not top the table at the start of a weekend of Bundesliga fixtures. Having won the Bundesliga title in each of the last four seasons, things are currently not going Bayern's way.

New leader RB Leipzig, which is at Freiburg on Friday, is on a record run and yet to taste defeat in its first 11 league games to leave it three points clear of Bayern.

Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl acknowledged its 3-2 win at Leverkusen last Friday, to put it top, stirred up a wasps' nest "so of course there is some buzzing" in Bayern.

Following its home draw with Hoffenheim, a narrow defeat at Borussia Dortmund and 3-2 loss at Russia's Rostov in the Champions League on Wednesday, Bayern is wobbling.

This is the second time the Bavarian giant has gone three games without a win since Carlo Ancelotti took charge at the start of the season. Poor defending was at the root of its problem in Rostov.

The tension around the defending German champion is clear, especially as the Rostov defeat ended its hopes of winning its Champions League group.

"It's useless to make a circus out of things now," fumed chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after the loss in Rostov. "We have to do things better, especially in Saturday's next game against Bayer Leverkusen."

Captain Philipp Lahm denies Bayern is in crisis, but admitted that at the moment the team is a bit careless and making too many mistakes. "We don't seem to know that our opponents can also score and will punish our mistakes," he added, bemused.

Bayern is waiting on the fitness of defender Jerome Boateng. The Germany centre-back suffered a thigh injury in Rostov and was criticised by Rummenigge for a poor display, but the whole Bayern defence is currently shaky.

Having served time in jail for tax evasion, Uli Hoeness is set to be re-elected as Bayern president on Friday. The out-spoken Hoeness wants to put Bayern back on the attack and the 64-year-old will have plenty to say if results do not improve.

Leverkusen is buoyed from its midweek Champions League draw at CSKA Moscow which means it progressed to the last 16 at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur.

The sides drew 0-0 in Leverkusen in February on their previous meeting and it is four years since Bayer last poached a win in Munich.

Third-placed Dortmund is at Eintracht Frankfurt having welcomed back Germany winger Marco Reus, who led the scoring in the record 8-4 drubbing of Legia Warsaw on Tuesday.

Coach Thomas Tuchel, who made nine changes for the side which beat Bayern, has a few defensive frailties to fix.

Antony Modeste, the league's joint top scorer with 12 goals alongside Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, will look to add to his tally for fourth-placed Cologne against. Augsburg.

Fifth-placed Hoffenheim, which along with RB Leipzig, is still unbeaten this season, travels to Borussia Monchengladbach, which is 13th. Gladbach held Manchester City to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday which ended its Champions League hopes and booked its passage into the Europa League.

The draw took some pressure off coach Andre Schubert, but his side is winless in its last six games.



Fixtures

Borussia Monchengladbach v Hoffenheim, Cologne v Augsburg, Hamburg v Werder Bremen, Ingolstadt v Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich v Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke 04 v Darmstadt, Hertha Berlin v Mainz.

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