Bundesliga preview: Bayern flying under radar ahead of visit to Frankfurt
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Reigning champions Bayern Munich have been overshadowed by Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen this season, but their hopes of a 12th-straight title remain well alive as they prepare for Saturday's trip to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Unbeaten Bayern sit three points behind Leverkusen with a game in hand, after last week's home match against Union Berlin was postponed due to heavy snowfall.
With Leverkusen, who are also unbeaten, travelling to third-placed Stuttgart on Sunday, Bayern will go top for a night, at least, if they win at struggling Frankfurt.
Bayern's early exit from the German Cup and some lacklustre performances in the Champions League have belied their excellent league record, with ten wins and two draws in 12 matches.
Normally mid-week regulars, Bayern come into the match after a 10-day break -- although manager Thomas Tuchel was careful not to let his troops cool down too much amid ongoing snowstorms in Munich.
Bayern's squad were put through extended sessions in the cold ahead of the trip to Frankfurt, with cameras showing Tuchel brandishing a colourful tactics board to get his message across amidst the Bavarian snow.
The visitors face a Frankfurt side who have gone off the boil in recent weeks, suffering four straight losses.
Frankfurt coach Dino Toppmoeller admitted these struggles on Wednesday, saying his side were "on (their) last legs".
Frankfurt exited the German Cup at the hands of third-tier Saarbruecken on Wednesday, the side which also eliminated 20-time winners Bayern.
"There's a lack of freshness, perhaps also mentally. We have to shake ourselves quickly and try and flick the switch."
Europa League title winners in 2021-22, Frankfurt's Conference League exertions have dented the club's promising start under Toppmoeller, who joined in the summer.
Frankfurt had won six and drawn one in a seven-game run in October and November, only dropping points in a pulsating 3-3 draw with Dortmund.
Toppmoeller, who spent 2021 to 2023 as an assistant coach at Bayern, said his side needed to "show a clear reaction" and not "play the victim" when the German champions visit.
One to watch: Mohamed Simakan (RB Leipzig)
Starting every league match this season, RB Leipzig's French centre-back Mohamed Simakan has become a mainstay of the Saxons' defence, after two inconsistent seasons in Germany.
Leipzig have conceded 13 goals in 13 games this season, third only to leaders Leverkusen and champions Bayern, who have played one game fewer.
The 23-year-old told the Bundesliga website on Thursday, Leipzig "can achieve something big" in Saturday's trip to off-form Borussia Dortmund.
"There's a big rivalry between the two clubs and a lot of emotion involved.
"Our game is based on intensity. If we play with that level of intensity, there are very few teams that can deal with us."
18 in 12: Harry Kane has 18 goals in 12 league games. Only nine of the Bundesliga's 18 teams has more so far this season.
16 in 11: With 16 goals in 11 games, Serhou Guirassy is hot on Kane's heels -- although the Guinean has only started in nine of those matches.
Three of eight: Leverkusen, Stuttgart and Borussia Moenchengladbach are the only top-division sides in the German Cup quarter-finals.
- Hoffenheim vs. Bochum
- Heidenheim vs. Darmstadt
- Wolfsburg vs. Freiburg
- Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Bayern Munich
- Werder Bremen vs. Augsburg
- Union Berlin vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
- Borussia Dortmund vs. RB Leipzig
- Stuttgart vs. Bayer Leverkusen
- FC Koln vs. Mainz
- My bags are 'packed,' Tuchel jokes after sitting on suitcase during win
- Kane rallies Bayern after ending 3-match losing skid: 'Never give up'
- Kane's late winner vs. RB Leipzig lifts pressure on Bayern Munich
- Alonso: Liverpool, Bayern links are 'just speculation'
- Leaders Leverkusen set German record with 33-game unbeaten run