RB Leipzig 0-0 Bayern Munich
After their victory over Hamburg last weekend, coupled with nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund being held by Werder Bremen, this was billed by many as the day Bayern Munich would clinch a seventh successive Bundesliga title.
The us Bundesliga betting odds predicted it too, even though this was always going to be a tough fixture.
And so it proved as RB Leipzig consolidated third spot and held the champions to ensure the most thrilling title race for years in Germany will go down to the final day of the season next weekend.
Highlights of the game
Perhaps a goalless draw meant both sides didn’t want to give too much away ahead of their German Cup Final clash in a fortnight’s time.
Either way, we weren’t short of Bundesliga highlights despite the lack of goals.
The Red Bull Arena anticipated an exciting contest and it got one.
Bayern fans received a pre-match boost when top scorer Robert Lewandowski was passed fit to play, despite a scare in training.
That certainly helped the visitors who were already missing Manuel Neuer, Javi Martinez and James Rodriguez.
Yet there was no chance of Leipzig taking it easy, even if they have already secured Champions League football for next season, as they extended their unbeaten run to 15 matches.
From the first whistle, the hosts were full of energy and Timo Werner was a lively outlet.
Bayern had early chances, however, with Serge Gnabry hitting a tame effort straight at Peter Gulacsi and Lewandowski firing wide after the home keeper managed to pressure the Polish frontman.
Up at the other end, Yussuf Poulsen saw a shot blocked by Mats Hummels who then crucially deflected a Marcel Sabitzer attempt to safety.
A Gnabry volley and Werner shot raised brief alarm bells at either end as a feisty opening half drew to a close.
Five minutes into the second period came the main talking point of the afternoon.
A Gnabry cross was only half cleared by Ibrahima Konate and Leon Goretzka sent a smart volley into the net only for Lewandowski to be ruled marginally offside, courtesy of VAR.
It prompted Bayern’s best spell of the encounter with the impressive Gulacsi smothering a Thomas Muller cross before Gnabry struck the corner of post and bar – an offside flag subsequently meant it would not have counted anyway.
Wing wizards Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, nearing the end of their Bayern careers, were both brought on as Niko Kovac’s men chased a title-clinching victory.
That looked to have arrived in the closing stages but a combination of Gulacsi and Konate kept out Lewandowski who then fired a free-kick within inches of the goal with the keeper motionless.
Since their destruction of Dortmund a month ago, Bayern have been clear favourites to retain the title.
And while they still are, this result, coupled with Dortmund’s 3-2 success against Dusseldorf, means they are now only two points clear with one game remaining.
A draw in their final league match will be enough to retain their crown, assuming Dortmund do not win by 18 goals!
History is certainly with Bayern but, for now, this title race is still very much alive.
This was Rafinha’s 266th competitive match for Bayern, drawing him level with fellow Brazilian Giovane Elber.
Bayern Munich and Leipzig have both scored 11 times in the first 15 minutes of matches this season – more than any other teams in the German top flight.
Leipzig are unbeaten in their last 15 (won 10, drawn five). That is a new club record.
Gulacsi has kept more clean sheets this season (16) than any other custodian. Bayern stopper Sven Ulreich has four shut-outs in eight league games this term.
Ribery could win a record-breaking ninth Bundesliga title if Bayern are crowned champions next week, one more than fellow club legends Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Oliver Kahn and Mehmet Scholl.
A side on top of the Bundesliga going into the final day of the season has only been defeated three times in history. The last occasion was in 1999-2000 when Bayer Leverkusen lost away to Unterhaching and Bayern celebrated the championship winning 3-1 at home to Werder Bremen and claiming the title due to their superior goal difference.
With an average of 3.14 goals per match, the Bundesliga is the European top-flight league with the most goals in the 2018-19 season – ahead of the Premier League (2.80), Serie A (2.66), La Liga (2.57) and Ligue 1 (2.55).
Leipzig finish their league campaign at Werder Bremen next weekend, while Bayern host Eintracht Frankfurt – with revenge on their mind – before the DFB Cup Final between these two on May 25.
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