Bayern Munich kept in check in tight Bundesliga top four

By Barry Whelan, dpa

Four points separate the leading four teams in the Bundesliga after Bayern Munich and Leipzig share the spoils, Dortmund lose and Moenchengladbach are prevented from playing by storm Sabine.

Bayern Munich’s goalless draw at home to RB Leipzig was the best possible result for title rivals Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Moenchengladbach to keep the top four in the Bundesliga within four points.

Champions Bayern continue to lead on 43 points, with Leipzig a point behind and Dortmund on 39, relieved at not losing too much ground after a painful 4-3 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

Moenchengladbach are level on points with Dortmund but now have a game in hand after their Rhine derby match at home to Cologne on Sunday was postponed because of storm Sabine.

Leverkusen meanwhile stay in touch in fifth place, two points further adrift, and two ahead of Schalke, who have lost ground after a 1-1 home draw against bottom side Paderborn.

Both Bayern coach Hansi Flick and his Leipzig counterpart, Julian Nagelsmann, pronounced themselves satisfied with the point earned in Sunday’s top match.

“We have to admit the draw was deserved,” Flick said.

“We were better in the first half, I really liked the first 25 minutes. We weren’t so dominant after that. We made mistakes, invited our opponents and were lucky we didn’t go a goal down.

“We know we still have 13 matchdays, it’s a long way to go for the championship title. But that’s what everyone wants, an exciting race for the title.”

Leipzig had the best chance to win the match when striker Timo Werner shot wide with only Manuel Neuer in the Bayern goal to beat.

But Nagelsmann said: “I’m happy with our performance overall. We had the better chances in the second half and could have won the game. We were confident, defended high up the pitch and controlled the game well.

“Timo Werner’s chance wasn’t that easy as the ball popped up and he was running at full pace. Timo is obviously capable of scoring goals like that though and I’m sure he will do so in the coming games.”

The result was also a fillip for Leipzig after indifferent results this year, with only one league win (against Union Berlin), a draw and two defeats, including a cup exit against Eintracht Frankfurt mid-week.

“We can keep up with Bayern if we bring our power onto the pitch,” Nageslmann said.

“This was a good sign for the future. We want to finish in the top four and the point today was an important one in the hunt for that.”

Dortmund were meanwhile left scratching their heads at their continuing defensive problems after giving away a 3-2 lead against Leverkusen with 10 minutes to go. With the 3-2 midweek defeat at Werder Bremen, they have conceded seven goals in two matches, and 10 in three away from home this year.

Thirty-two goals conceded in 21 league games is set against 59 scored, the best in the league, including 18 in the last four.

“We’re conceding too many goals, and that’s why we’re not in a better position at present,” sports director Michael Zorc said.

Coach Lucien Favre told Sport1: “Since I have been a coach I have rarely had a team which has had such (defensive) difficulties.”

Favre now has Emre Can in midfield or defence, after the Germany international arrived from Juventus, to add more experienced to a young squad.

“The team has a lot of potential but needs to learn one thing: when you’re in the lead, you have to be ‘dirtier’ – to put it simply,” Can said.

“Sometimes you need to commit fouls, defend better, all together. We play beautiful attacking football but we all need to be better defensively.”

Dortmund’s next chance to get it right comes on Friday with a home game against improved Eintracht Frankfurt, lying ninth.

Bayern meanwhile travel to Cologne on Sunday, while on Satuarday Leipzig are at home to relegation-threatened Werder Bremen, and Gladbach have a short trip to Fortuna Dusseldorf.

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