With the usual winter break extended due to the World Cup, the Bundesliga returns for the first time in over two months and it is a mouth-watering clash at the Red Bull Arena on Friday evening as Bayern Munich roll into town to take on Die Rotenbullen.
Since the last league action, German football has not exactly been riding the crest of a wave with Die Nationalmannschaft exiting the World Cup at the group stages for the second consecutive tournament but this matchup is as big as it comes domestically.
In their last league games, Leipzig and Bayern secured away victories at Werder Bremen and Schalke, respectively with the hosts having played four friendlies in the month of January. There were victories over Polish outfit Radomiak Radom, Horsens of Denmark and Czech Republic's Mlada Boleslav. Their lone defeat came in a 4-2 reversal against Frankfurt.
Julian Nagelsmann's charges have played just one friendly since that 2-0 win at the Veltins Arena on 12th November and that was a 4-4 draw with FC Salzburg last Friday. These two played out a thrilling German Super Cup tie at the same venue in July with Bayern coming out 5-3 winners.
Red Bull Sporting Director Max Eberl confirmed this week that France international Christopher Nkunku's rumoured move to Chelsea this summer has been completed. Nkunku missed the World Cup for Les Bleues and is not yet fit enough to return for his club but that has not put the Blues off as a fee in the region of £50million has been agreed for the former-PSG man.
Bayern have made one addition so far in the January window with the arrival of Netherlands international Daley Blind on a six-month deal following the mutual termination of his contract at Ajax.
These two team have just four league defeats between them so far in 2022/23 with the visitors' only reversal a shock 1-0 defeat to Augsburg on 17th September. Incidentally this is the last day that Marco Rose's men tasted defeat.
Rose's charges had a very rocky start to the season with just two wins from their first seven league games which included a 2-1 defeat away to Union Berlin and getting humbled 4-0 and 3-0 by Frankfurt and Monchengladbach respectively. They also lost their opening two Champions League group matches in this spell which really put them behind the 8 ball if they were to have any chance of making the knockout stages.
However, since then they have been an unstoppable force going unbeaten in their next eight league games, winning six, and also winning their four remaining Champions League games to storm into the last 16 where a mouth-watering tie with Manchester City awaits next month.
Nagelsmann's side have been doing what Bayern do. They sit in the oh-so-familiar position atop the Bundesliga tree with 34 points from their 15 games and you have to go back to October 8th and the 2-2 Die Klassiker stalemate at the Westfalenstadion for the last time they dropped points. They also cruised through a tough-looking Champions League group containing Internazionale, Barcelona and Viktoria Plzen with six wins from six to set up a titanic clash with PSG in the last 16.
However, they are not completely running away with things domestically with the surprise package of the first half of the season, Frieburg just four points behind them in second with Friday's opponents another two back while Frankfurt, Union Berlin and Dortmund round off the European places.
Red Bull Leipzig
The afore-mentioned Christopher Nkunku's return is not yet within sight but the Frenchman is not the only long-term absentee for Marco Rose. The Hungarian duo of Willi Orban and Peter Gulasci are both out and Senegal international Abdou Diallo is considered very doubtful.
Goalkeeper Janis Blaswich, who has been a more-than-able deputy for the afore-mentioned Gulasci did not feature in any of this month's friendlies but the hope is he will have recovered from a calf problem in time for Friday night or else Rose will have to go down the depth chart even further. Young French defender Mohamed Simakan has had a stomach bug but is expected to be fit.
Julian Nagelsmann has a few long-term injury problems of his own with pre-World Cup issues for Manuel Neuer, Bouna Sarr and Sadio Mane not yet resolved while French international Lucas Hernandez tore his ACL playing for his country at the World Cup.
Noussair Mazraoui starred for Morocco in their incredible run to the World Cup semi-finals but has since suffered heart complications as a result of COVID-19 meaning that he is sadly out of action for the forseable. Leroy Sane has been unwell this week, missing training, but should be ready to go on Friday night.
Red Bull Leipzig
Blaswich; Klostermann; Gvardiol; Simakan; Raum; Szoboszlai; Schlager; Laimer; Kampl; Forsberg; Andre Silva
Ulreich; Pavard; De Ligt; Upamecano; Davies; Kimmich; Goretzka; Musiala; Sane; Gnabry; Choupo-Moting
The absence of Christopher Nkunku leaves a gaping hole in the Leipzig attacking line but it is one they will have to get used to when he moves to Chelsea in the summer. Swedish international Forsberg has been contributing from a wider position this season but may be pushed into a more central role in support of Andre Silva and to link midfield and attack.
With eight goals and three assists already this season, the former Arsenal man is well on his way to beat the 14 goals from last season. He has very much shaken off the tired old tag of "West Brom reject" and is a key man for both club and country. With Leroy Sane's fitness up in the air and Sadio Mane out indefinitely, even more may fall on his shoulders. A hat-trick against Werder Bremen and the opener in Gelsenkirchen preceded the ill-fated World Cup but Bayern will be hoping he can pick up where he left off in a red shirt.
Where is the game being played?
The game will be played at Red Bull Arena, home of Red Bull Leipzig
What time is kick-off?
Kick off is at 7:30pm UK time
Where can I watch?
Viewers in the UK can watch the game on Sky Sports Mix