Football-loving Germany is looking forward to the top match between league leader Bayer Leverkusen and chasing Bayern Munich on Saturday evening. Neutral fans are hoping for Leverkusen to succeed, notes Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel. And he has some understanding for that.
The dominance of Bayern as the champions of Germany for the past eleven years has led to a sense of monotony within the football landscape.
Leverkusen, however, is aiming to disrupt this status quo and put an end to Der Rekordmeister's hegemony this season. Under the leadership of Xabi Alonso, Leverkusen remains undefeated after twenty rounds of matches, holding a slim two-point lead over Bayern in the Bundesliga standings, setting the stage for a potential shift in power dynamics when they clash on Saturday.
Tuchel, acknowledging the sentiment among both Leverkusen supporters and neutral football fans, recognizes their desire for a change in the narrative. "You always see that," he remarked during his Friday press conference, drawing a comparison to the anticipation and fervor surrounding matches involving tennis legend Roger Federer. Just as opponents of Federer contend not only with his skill but also with the fervent support of his fans, Tuchel notes a similar dynamic in football, where neutral spectators often root for the underdog, seeking an upset to inject excitement into the sport.
Despite the criticism directed at Bayern in recent times, Tuchel remains steadfast in his belief in his team's abilities. He highlights their impressive performance in the first half of the season, questioning why there hasn't been more appreciation for their achievements. While acknowledging the desire for Leverkusen to clinch the title, Tuchel emphasizes that Bayern is only two points behind and sees room for improvement, aiming to deliver a statement performance in their upcoming clash.
Reflecting on Leverkusen's undefeated streak this season, Tuchel acknowledges the challenge ahead but expresses confidence in his team's readiness to face it head-on. While Leverkusen has been formidable opponents, Tuchel remains undeterred, emphasizing Bayern's competitive spirit and determination to seize the opportunity presented by the match.
Furthermore, Bayern's defensive concerns appear to be easing with the return of key players such as Dayot Upamecano and Kim Min-jae from injury and international duty, respectively. Their presence is expected to bolster Bayern's backline, providing added stability and resilience. However, uncertainties linger over the availability of players like Alphonso Davies and Manuel Neuer, adding an element of intrigue to the team's lineup for the upcoming fixture.