You won’t find a bigger match across Europe’s top five leagues this weekend than this top-of-the-table clash in the Bundesliga. We look ahead to the game with our Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich prediction and preview.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich Stats: The Quick Hits
- Bayern Munich are rated as the team most likely to win this match, succeeding in 39.7% of the Opta supercomputer’s pre-match simulations compared to Bayer Leverkusen’s 33.3%-win rate.
- Bayer Leverkusen are on a club-record 30 game unbeaten streak, just two away from equalling the all-time German professional club record.
- Harry Kane is the leading scorer in the Bundesliga with 24 goals and needs just six more to equal the record by a player in their debut season in the German top flight.
In what is undoubtedly the clash of the weekend across Europe, Bayer Leverkusen look to extend their lead at the top of the Bundesliga table to five points with a win over second-place Bayern Munich. That, of course, is easier said than done against the giants of German club football who have won 11 successive Bundesliga titles.
But this Bayer Leverkusen side seem unlike any opponent Bayern have come up against in those 11 years, with Xabi Alonso turning them into genuine title contenders since arriving at the club as head coach in October 2022.
Leverkusen are chasing their maiden Bundesliga title and aiming to become the 13th different club to win the competition since it began in 1963-64. They’ve come close before, finishing second place in five different seasons, but this could be their best chance yet.
Leverkusen have conceded the fewest goals – their 14 after 20 games equalled a club record set in 1989-90 – and kept a league-high 10 clean sheets, and they only trail Bayern (59) for goals scored (52). Their high-intensity pressing game has seen four of their goals come following a high turnover, with Alonso’s men having a league-high 42 shots following such situations – 12 more than Bayern.
Bayern are the giants of German football, having won a record 32 Bundesliga titles and the third-most European Cup/Champions League crowns (six) of any side. Not since 2011-12 have a side other than Bayern lifted the Bundesliga trophy, when Jürgen Klopp helped Borussia Dortmund to glory. Thomas Tuchel won the Bundesliga for the first time last season after taking charge at the club, to add to his two Ligue 1 titles with Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 and 2020.
Both Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich have been easy on the eye in the German top flight this season, with these two clubs being deemed the most ‘slow and intricate’ in style in the Bundesliga (below). Only two clubs have averaged 60% possession or higher in the competition this season – Leverkusen lead the way with 62.6% and Bayern follow just behind on 61.6%.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich Head-to-Head
It won’t come as much of a shock to learn Bayern Munich have inflicted more defeats on Bayer Leverkusen than any other team in the history of the competition (52), while Leverkusen have averaged fewer points against Bayern than any other opponent (0.84 – based on three points for a win).
Their recent record against Bayern has been better, however. They are unbeaten in their last two meetings with the record champions following a 2-1 home win last season and a 2-2 draw in Munich earlier this term. The last time they went three league games unbeaten against Bayern Munich came between 2009 and 2010.
The 2-2 draw on 15 September saw Bayer Leverkusen come from behind twice – firstly via Álex Grimaldo after Harry Kane had put Bayern ahead, and again in added time via Exequiel Palacios’ penalty after Bayern thought they’d sealed all three points through Leon Goretzka’s 86th-minute strike. This remains the only match that Bayern Munich have dropped points from a winning position in the league this season. Alonso’s side also went into that game top of the table, one of four occasions in Bundesliga history they have faced the second-placed side as league leaders – they haven’t won any of those (D2 L2). This weekend will be the fifth time.
Alonso played 117 matches for Bayern as a player between 2014-2017. As a coach, he’s unbeaten in his first two Bundesliga games against them (W1 D1); the last manager to go unbeaten in his first three league games against Bayern was Julian Nagelsmann between 2016 and 2017 with TSG Hoffenheim.
Bayern Munich have lost just one of their last eight Bundesliga encounters with Bayer Leverkusen (W5 D2), with that coming 2-1 at BayArena last season on 19 March 2023. Both of their goals that day also came via penalty kicks from Palacios in the second half, after Joshua Kimmich had given Bayern a 22nd-minute lead.
Bayer Leverkusen are enjoying their best start to a season, with a phenomenal run of form. Following their midweek DFB-Pokal win over VfB Stuttgart, they are unbeaten in 30 consecutive matches in all competitions, which is not only a club record but two away from breaking the all-time record by a German professional club.
That record is currently held by Bayern Munich, who went 32 games without defeat from December 2019 to September 2020, so this weekend brings them the chance to preserve that record for a while longer.
Bayer Leverkusen’s record of 16 wins and four draws this season means they are just the fourth team in Bundesliga history to remain unbeaten 20 matches into a campaign, after Bayern in 1988-89, themselves in 2009-10 and Bayern again in 2013-14. Bayern hold the record for the longest unbeaten start to a Bundesliga season when they didn’t lose until their 29th match of 2013-14 en route to the title.
Alonso’s side need just five more wins across their final 14 Bundesliga matches to equal their record tally of victories in a season, 21 set in 1996-97, 1999-00 and 2001-02 – all campaigns in which they finished second place.
Bayern last suffered defeat on 21 January, losing 1-0 at home to Werder Bremen. They have recovered well since, winning their last three games, all in the Bundesliga and coming against current bottom-half sides Union Berlin, Augsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Their 50-point tally from 20 games is more than they had accumulated at the same stage in any of the last five seasons and seven more than this point last term (43). The last time that they won 50 points from their first 20 games was in 2017-18.
Bayer Leverkusen: Florian Wirtz
Unbelievably still only 20 years old, Bayer Leverkusen’s Florian Wirtz is having a brilliant season. Now only three appearances away from making his 100th in the Bundesliga, Wirtz would become just the sixth player to reach a century of Bundesliga games before his 21st birthday – and that’s despite spending nearly a year out with an ACL injury between March 2022 and January 2023. Still three months away from turning 21, Wirtz is already 16th for the most minutes played in Bundesliga history before turning 21 and looks set to break into the top five before his birthday (he only needs to play 548 more minutes to do so).
Wirtz is leading the Bundesliga for open-play chances created (47) ahead of Leroy Sané (43), while only the Bayern winger (7.0) has a higher open-play expected assists (xA) total than Wirtz (6.2) in the German top flight this season. Across all competitions in 2023-24, he’s been involved in 23 goals in 28 appearances, with his 15 assists more than any other Bundesliga player.
While Wirtz is not alone in being a creative force in this side – teammate Grimaldo has more league goals (7) and assists (9) than he does this season – the recent form of the youngster has helped soften the blow of losing top scorer Victor Boniface to injury last month.
Bayern Munich: Harry Kane
As one of the leading scorers in Premier League history, there was little doubt Kane would be able to transfer his goalscoring prowess across to the German top flight following his big summer move from Tottenham Hotspur to Bayern. But, if anything, his goalscoring feats have arguably exceeded expectations in his debut season at the club.
After none of their players could get more than 14 goals and only three hit double-figures in the Bundesliga last season (Serge Gnabry -14, Jamal Musiala – 12, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – 10), Bayern needed to find a goalscorer. The England captain has certainly delivered.
He’s scored 24 league goals across the opening 20 matchdays of the Bundesliga season, a tally that only Robert Lewandowski (2020-21 at Bayern) has ever been able to replicate. He’s now six goals away from equalling the all-time Bundesliga record for goals by a player in their first season (Uwe Seeler – 30 goals in 1963-64), and he needs 17 goals in the remaining 14 matchdays this season to equal Lewandowski’s all-time record tally of 41 in 2020-21.
With 28 goals in all competitions this campaign, he’s just two away from hitting the 30-mark within a single campaign for the sixth time and needs 13 more competitive goals between now and the end of 2023-24 to equal his all-time seasonal best tally of 41 at Spurs in 2017-18.
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,500 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off this weekend at the BayArena, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich Prediction
The Opta supercomputer played out this match 10,000 times before kick-off and the most common result saw Bayern Munich pick up a crucial away win. Of the pre-match sims, Bayern won 39.7% of them, with Bayer Leverkusen winning 33.3% of the time and the sides sharing a point in 27% of simulations.
Should Bayern win this match then it would see them overtake Bayer Leverkusen at the top of the Bundesliga table and lead by a single point. If that happens, the Opta supercomputer sees Bayern winning the title 73% of the time – up from their current projection of 53.3%.
Perfectly displaying how huge this game could prove to be in the title race, the Opta supercomputer thinks a win for Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday evening would boost their chances of clinching a first Bundesliga title to 66% from their current projection of 46.6%.
A draw wouldn’t be a terrible result for either side, as their chances of title success would hardly change from the pre-match numbers, but it would see Leverkusen keep their narrow one-point lead with 13 matchdays remaining, which provides extremely little margin for error in a race against a Bayern side that are on a run of 11 Bundesliga titles.
Three of the five previous occasions Bayer Leverkusen have finished second in the Bundesliga have seen them confirmed as runners-up to Bayern Munich (1996-97, 1998-99 and 1999-00); a defeat in this match could see history repeat itself once more.