FILE - Leverkusen s Florian Wirtz, left, and Bayern s Joshua Kimmich, right, challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in Leverkusen, Germany, Sunday, March 19, 2023. AFP
The only two with perfect records in the Bundesliga will meet in Munich on Friday. Leverkusen has racked up 11 goals in three wins and leads Bayern on goal difference. The defending champions, meanwhile, had to fight back to earn a 2-1 win at Borussia Moenchengladbach in their last game.
Leverkusen has impressed with wins over Leipzig, Gladbach and Darmstadt and its strong start to the season has stoked hopes that Bayern finally has a rival that could potentially end its decade of dominance.
The Bavarian powerhouse has won every title since 2013.
Both teams are being led by new signings in attack — Bayern with England record scorer Harry Kane, and Leverkusen with Nigeria forward Victor Boniface. Together they have been involved in 10 goals for their teams so far.
Granit Xhaka is directing play for Leverkusen following his arrival from Arsenal. Xhaka’s off-season signing was just one of several that seem to have paid off quickly for Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes.
Leverkusen right back Jeremie Frimpong has also starred for the team coached by Xabi Alonso. Frimpong told The Associated Press the aim is to “keep the fire burning” this season.
Leverkusen lost 4-0 on its last visit to Munich but beat the defending champions 2-1 last March in what was Alonso’s first game in charge against his former team. As a player, Alonso won three Bundesliga titles in a row with Bayern toward the end of his storied career.
That loss to Leverkusen was Julian Nagelsmann’s last as Bayern coach. His replacement, Thomas Tuchel, has yet to reestablish the team’s unquestioned dominance amid boardroom turmoil. Bayern fired CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić almost immediately after winning the title.
For Leverkusen, Friday’s trip to Munich is a chance to measure the team’s progress against what remains the clear favorite for another league title.
“It’s the first real test after three games,” Leverkusen midfielder Robert Andrich told Kicker magazine. “Now we can see where we stand.”
Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich is a doubt for the game after missing Germany's 2-1 friendly win over France on Tuesday with a slight injury.
On Saturday, Borussia Dortmund, which blew its chance of winning the title on the final day of last season, faces a tough game at Freiburg.
Dortmund has been struggling since the season started and the team was whistled by its own supporters after a 2-2 draw against promoted Heidenheim in its last game. It was its second draw in two games after starting with a win over Cologne.
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