Going into the extended winter break, Bayern Munich were four points clear of Freiburg in second place, while RB Leipzig trailed by six points, Union Berlin by seven, and BVB were all the way back in sixth with a nine point gap between them and the top of the table.
While none of these gaps seemed totally insurmountable, it was very hard to imagine a title race emerging in the second half of the season, given that Bayern Munich have won ten titles in a row and have an ironclad grip on the Meisterschale. But just three games into the second half of the season, and barely out of the first month of 2023, things are looking much, much tighter in the Bundesliga title race. Just three points separate five teams at the top of the table now. Do we dare to dream?
Here’s how Matchday 18 shaped up in the Bundesliga:
RB Leipzig 2-1 VfB Stuttgart
Freiburg 3-1 Augsburg
Hertha Berlin 0-2 Union Berlin
Mainz 5-2 VfL Bochum
Hoffenheim 1-4 Borussia Monchengladbach
Werder Bremen 2-1 Wolfsburg
Bayern Munich 1-1 Frankfurt
Schalke 0-0 FC Köln
Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Borussia Dortmund
What’s Up With Bayern Munich?
The faint possibility of a title race emerging in the Bundesliga has come about due to not only the improving form of several potential challengers, but also the unexpected struggles that Bayern Munich are currently facing. The Bundesliga champions have yet to register a single victory in 2023, drawing their last three games 1-1, despite playing at home in their last two fixtures. The latest team to claim a point at the Allianz Arena was Eintracht Frankfurt, after a second half Randal Kolo Muani goal cancelled out Leroy Sane’s first half opener.
It’s not as though Bayern have been extremely unlucky in any of these games, either. They were the better team against Köln and Frankfurt, but they weren’t particularly convincing in either game, especially considering they were the home team.
This slump comes at the same time as RB Leipzig have turned things round and surged up the table. Since Marco Rose took over as manager, RB Leipzig have lost just once in the Bundesliga, and are currently on an 16-match unbeaten run across all competitions. RB Leipzig are the in-form team in the Bundesliga, and they sit just two points behind Bayern Munich now. Will Bayern turn things round before RB Leipzig, or another of the chasing pack, catches them?
Do we have a title race? Who do you think is the most viable challenger to Bayern Munich’s hopes to win the Bundesliga for the eleventh time in a row?