BERLIN (Reuters) – It has been a bad week for RB Leipzig with the loss of the Bundesliga lead and a German Cup exit to Eintracht Frankfurt but it could get even worse with champions Bayern Munich awaiting on Saturday.
The Bavarians are eager to leave a fresh marker in the title race, having won their previous six league games to take the top of the Bundesliga last week.
Leipzig, a point behind on 41, have managed only a point in their last two games and have now gone three games in all competitions without a win.
Julian Nagelsmann’s team played a formidable first half of the season, living up to expectations as the next big team in German football.
But since the restart following the winter break, Leipzig’s game has lost its fluidity and their defence has stuttered with a string of eye-popping blunders.
They lost 2-0 to Frankfurt before needing an 89th minute goal from Christopher Nkunku to rescue a point against Borussia Moenchengladbach last week.
Their midweek German Cup exit was even more disappointing after conceding another three goals from Frankfurt for a 3-1 loss.
Yet Nagelsmann refuses to accept his team is in a rut.
“At the moment things are not working out as we have worked them in training,” Nagelsmann said. “We are not having a dip in form. We were the better team (in the German Cup), should have scored several times,” he said.
“Frankfurt got a penalty with their first attack. It is not a form low. We did not get good results in the last three weeks and we need to work on that,” he said.
There is little his team’s opponents need to be working on at the moment, with the Bavarians having won eight consecutive matches in all competitions.
Bayern’s top forward, Robert Lewandowski, has kept up his scoring run and his team have been virtually unaffected by a string of injuries, the latest being striker Ivan Perisic.
The Croatian will be out for several weeks with a fractured ankle after a rough challenge from teammate Alvaro Odriozola in training on Tuesday.
Interim coach Hansi Flick has earned bonus points for successfully managing the situation and looks closer than ever to getting a permanent deal.
But he knows his team cannot let off as they did in their German Cup round of 16 game on Wednesday when they were leading 4-1 but allowed Hoffenheim to score twice late in the game.
“That was a wakeup call for us,” Flick said. “That we allowed them to come back like that is something we need to address.”
Borussia Dortmund, in third place on 39, travel to Bayer Leverkusen.
(Editing by Robert Birsel)
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