Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly yet to begin talks with Neymar over a new deal.

The Brazil international was linked with a return to Barcelona before the start of this season, but ended up staying in Paris.

Yet after claims last month that Neymar wanted a new deal at PSG, it is reported no negotiations have been held just yet.

 

TOP STORY – PSG YET TO BEGIN CONTRACT TALKS WITH NEYMAR

PSG and Neymar are yet to meet to discuss a possible extension, according to Le Parisien.

Neymar, 28, is contracted to PSG until 2022, but there have been no talks over a stay beyond then.

The forward is expected to return from injury in PSG's Champions League last-16 first leg against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona appear to have found their replacement for the injured Ousmane Dembele. Sport reports the LaLiga giants have decided to pay Leganes forward Martin Braithwaite's release clause of €18million. Braithwaite has six goals in 24 LaLiga games this season.

- Bayern Munich are lining up a replacement for Jerome Boateng. France Football reports RB Leipzig defender Dayot Upamecano, who has a €60m release clause, has become a priority for Bayern.

- With Champions League football next season slipping away from Roma, the Serie A club may be unable to sign Chris Smalling. Corriere dello Sport reports Tottenham, Everton and Juventus are interested in Smalling, with Manchester United wanting €20m (£16.7m) for the 30-year-old.

- Two of Arsenal 18-year-olds are apparently attracting interest from Liverpool. Football Insider reports the runaway Premier League leaders are looking at Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka.

- Roma are considering a move for RB Leipzig right-back Lukas Klostermann, according to CalcioMercato. Klostermann, 23, has been capped eight times by Germany.

RB Leipzig can realistically get past Tottenham in the last 16 of the Champions League and their chances are improved by Harry Kane's absence, says Lukas Klostermann.

Julian Nagelsmann has guided Leipzig, who sit one point behind leaders Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, into the knockout stages in just their second season in Europe's premier club competition.

The first leg will take place at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday, with the return match at the Red Bull Arena three weeks later.

Germany international Klostermann believes Leipzig are more than capable of reaching the quarter-finals despite being up against a team that finished as Champions League runners-up in 2018-19.

"It's an exciting match-up where we have a realistic chance of going through, even though we are facing a top European club," Klostermann told Omnisport.

"Tottenham have shown over recent years that they are among European football's elite. We are looking forward to the two games, knowing it's an enormous challenge.

"However, we are looking forward to those games and due to the work we have done during this season and the previous one, to have the opportunity to show where we're at."

In both legs, Spurs will be without Kane, who has been sidelined since January due to a hamstring injury and is not expected to return until April.

"I can't influence those things but obviously it's not really a disadvantage for us when their top striker is missing," said Klostermann.

"We need to look at ourselves and need to show a good performance on the pitch during those two games. A lot is going to depend on us if we go through or not."

Nagelsmann took charge of Hoffenheim at 28, making him the youngest coach in Bundesliga history, and his stock has continued to rise at Leipzig.

Klostermann said: "I think he is still a very young coach, he is very detailed and week after week he manages to communicate his idea to us players in a way that we can understand it and get enthusiastic about it, so that we are also convinced of this plan and are fully behind it.

"I think that's very important. You can see this in many situations, whether the team really stands behind the coach's idea and can implement it or whether you're just trying to implement instructions you're not convinced of yourself."

Pep Guardiola's future at Manchester City continues to dominate discussions – and it seemingly still remains unclear.

Talk around the Spaniard has intensified after City were handed a two-season Champions League ban by UEFA for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play rules, although they deny wrongdoing and intend to appeal.

But will Guardiola, who is contracted at the Etihad Stadium until 2021, stay or go?

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA TO STAY AT MAN CITY DESPITE BAN

Guardiola will remain at City next season whether they have their ban overturned or not, according to the Mirror.

However, Tuttosport reports the chances of the former Barcelona head coach leaving City are "70 per cent".

Guardiola has reportedly suggested previously he intends to honour his contract at City.

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea are making their move for Jadon Sancho. France Football reports the Premier League club have started talks with the Borussia Dortmund star, who has attracted interest from numerous European giants, including Manchester United.

- Staying at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea are set to pay £23million (€27.7m) for Inter midfielder Matias Vecino at the end of the season, according to the Daily Express.

- After strong links during the close season, Bayern Munich's interest in Manchester City attacker Leroy Sane has cooled, according to Kicker. Sane tore his anterior cruciate ligament in August.

- Staying at Bayern and Kicker reports the Bundesliga giants are keeping tabs on Liverpool's interest in RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner. Werner has been linked with the European giants after scoring 20 goals in 22 Bundesliga games this season.

- Alexander Isak's form for Real Sociedad this season is leading to interest, but Mundo Deportivo reports clubs wanting the forward at the end of the campaign must pay €70m. Former club Borussia Dortmund reportedly have an option to buy Isak for €30m, but that only comes into play in 2021.

- Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu has impressed this season and the 20-year-old is on Atletico Madrid's radar, according to Marca.

RB Leipzig went top of the Bundesliga following a 3-0 victory over Werder Bremen at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday.

With Bayern Munich not in action until an away game against Cologne on Sunday, Julian Nagelsmann's team took advantage and moved two points clear of the reigning champions.

Lukas Klostermann swept home Patrik Schick's knockdown for the opener in the 17th minute and the Czech striker headed in one of his own from Dani Olmo's delivery before half-time.

Wing-back Nordi Mukiele added a cool finish to Konrad Laimer's pass just 34 seconds into the second half and Leipzig coasted to a first win in five games in all competitions.

RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann has revealed he turned down the chance to become head coach of Real Madrid.

The 32-year-old told the Independent he was approached by Madrid managing director Jose Angel Sanchez in 2018, at a time when the club were seeking a successor to Zinedine Zidane.

That job went to Julen Lopetegui, whose controversial appointment led to the incoming Madrid boss being ousted as Spain's head coach on the eve of the World Cup.

Lopetegui and Santiago Solari did not last, with their respective short stints in charge followed by the second coming of Zidane.

It could have been Nagelsmann in charge at the Santiago Bernabeu; however, the highly-rated young German decided the opportunity had come too early in his career.

He elected to stay with his club at the time, Hoffenheim, before moving on to Leipzig last year.

"It's normal if Real Madrid call you, you think about it," Nagelsmann said. "I was surprised at first, I weighed it up and I didn't feel comfortable with a decision to go there. I want to improve. If you go to Real Madrid, there's no time to improve as a manager. 

"You don't have a chance to be a better manager, you already have to be the best. I'm not the best now, but I can admit I want to be one of the best in future. If you go to Real Madrid or Barcelona, the fans, the media and the decision-makers don't give you the time to grow into that.

"They only want to see victories every game, titles, Champions League trophies. If you don't win, you can't say 'but I'm still young, I'm still developing'. It's not that easy in football to plan a career, because it is so unpredictable, but you have to try.

"The main thing is to make the right steps, not the biggest steps. Real Madrid is probably one of the highest steps you can take so I thought, 'You turn 31, go to Real and where to do you go from there?'."

He said the language barrier could also have been a problem, with Nagelsmann not a Spanish speaker.

He jumped at the Leipzig chance, however, and said that sparked a period when he was constantly linked with top jobs.

"The funny thing about that is, I signed a contract and then it felt like 10 minutes later, all the clubs were interested," he said. "It's like when you go to a disco and you are single, you'll never find a girl. Then when you go to the disco with your girlfriend, quite a few want you!"

Nagelsmann's Leipzig are set to face Jose Mourinho's Tottenham in the Champions League last 16, with the first leg in London next Wednesday.

The young German boss admits coaching in England holds plenty of appeal for the future.

"In the Premier League, there is no time slot for anything else. Football, football, football," he told the Independent. "But there are a few clubs that I watch closely and the Premier League is a goal for every manager."

First Barcelona and now Real Madrid. Lautaro Martinez is a wanted man.

With 16 goals across all competitions for Inter this season, Martinez is attracting plenty of interest following previous links to Manchester United.

Madrid and Barca are set to go head-to-head on and off the pitch.

 

TOP STORY – MADRID JOIN BARCA IN MARTINEZ RACE

Real Madrid want to pay the release clause of Inter star and Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez, according to Tyc Sports.

Martinez has long been linked with LaLiga champions Barca, who are eyeing a long-term replacement for Luis Suarez.

However, Martinez is now firmly on Madrid's radar with a release clause of €115million and Luka Jovic struggling to score regularly behind veteran striker Karim Benzema at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 

ROUND-UP

- ESPN says Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea are chasing Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, who is on loan at Premier League side Sheffield United. The 22-year-old – who is contracted to United until 2022 – has impressed at Bramall Lane and is reportedly unwilling to return to Manchester unless he is number one ahead of David de Gea.

Manchester City have joined Madrid, Barca, Arsenal and Tottenham in the race to sign RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano, reports the Manchester Evening News. Pep Guardiola's City are desperate for defensive reinforcements following Vincent Kompany's exit and injury woes.

- According to the Daily Express, Serie A champions Juventus are eying a shock move for Chelsea's Willian, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

- Remaining in Turin and the Daily Mail claims Juve have entered the chase for Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham. The 17-year-old is also wanted by United and Chelsea.

Tottenham are plotting a double swoop for Norwich City pair Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons, the Express says. It comes as the Daily Mail reports Spurs will sell Eric Dier if he does not sign a new contract.

- Marca says Barca have contacted Levante about Roger Marti but the club have pointed to the striker's release clause. Barca are looking to bring in an emergency forward following Ousmane Dembele's long-term injury. Real Betis' Loren Moron and Lucas Perez of Deportivo Alaves are also reported options.

RB Leipzig will be without Tyler Adams for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Tottenham.

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann announced at a news conference on Thursday the United States international sustained a calf injury in training and will be out for at least a week.

Leipzig face Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on Saturday before taking on Jose Mourinho's Tottenham in north London four days later.

Adams, who turns 21 on Friday, has made five appearances in all competitions this season, having only returned from seven months out with a groin issue in December.

He started the 0-0 draw with Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday that left Leipzig winless in four games in all competitions.

However, Nagelsmann is confident his team are primed to reproduce their best form as they hit a crucial part of the season.

"Our football improved against Bayern. It's a step in the right direction. The game has given the players confidence; training has been full of determination and power this week," said Nagelsmann.

"The team lacked stability before Bayern. There have been a lot of new elements in training in recent weeks that challenged them.

"I'm confident we can shake off this mini struggle, though, and believe that we already have."

Manuel Neuer has reiterated his intention to remain at Bayern Munich but confirmed there is not yet anything to announce regarding a contract extension.

Neuer's current deal with the Bundesliga champions – who drew 0-0 with title rivals RB Leipzig on Sunday – expires at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Bayern have already moved to bring in what would appear to be Neuer's long-term replacement, securing Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel on a free transfer, with the 23-year-old to join at the end of the campaign.

However, Neuer – who said in January that Nubel's arrival would have little impact on his position – repeated his stance following the clash with Leipzig.

"My plan is that I continue to play football for Bayern, and Alex Nubel will be there from summer, then it will continue," Neuer told Sky Sport.

"There is nothing we can announce at the moment."

While talks over a new contract continue, Neuer remains fully focused on helping Bayern see off the challenge of Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach in order to retain their Bundesliga crown.

"We are one point ahead," the goalkeeper said. "You cannot take this one game to judge whether there is a clearly better team."

Thomas Muller believes Bayern Munich were not prepared to take enough risks in order to defeat RB Leipzig in Sunday's Bundesliga showdown.

The German top-flight's top two sides clashed at Allianz Arena but neither team managed to come out with the spoils in a goalless draw.

It was not for a lack of trying, with Marcel Sabitzer and Timo Werner missing great chances for the visitors while Peter Gulacsi pulled off a superb save to deny Leon Goretzka late on.

However, Muller suggested Bayern's performance was not brave enough to warrant three points.

"There was a lot in it, but there was nothing in it at the same time. We missed making the game our game," Muller told Sky Sports Germany.

"The problem was that both teams could live a little with the 0-0. From the 70th minute, neither team wanted to take the absolute risk.

"We did not have this energy, this absolute will to win. We have a situation that we wanted somewhere. We will continue on our way and have it in our own hands."

Bayern still lead the way in the Bundesliga by one point, though Borussia Monchengladbach – who sit fourth, just four points adrift – now have a game in hand, and Hansi Flick is expecting the title race to go down to the wire.

"The first half was better. Then the seriousness in our game got lost. In the end you just have to say it was a deserved 0-0," Flick said.

"We know that there are still 13 game days and that it is still a hard way to become the champion in the end.

"That is what everyone wants – an exciting championship to be played, and I believe that we will do it justice this year."

Thiago Alcantara was frustrated by Bayern Munich's display against RB Leipzig as they were held to a 0-0 home draw, while Peter Gulacsi believed the visitors were worthy of a win.

Bayern missed the chance to move four points clear of Leipzig at the top of the Bundesliga on Sunday, though Hansi Flick's side were ultimately fortunate not to be overtaken by their opponents.

A lacklustre second-half performance from the defending champions handed Leipzig the initiative, with only dreadful misses from Marcel Sabitzer and Timo Werner sparring Bayern's blushes.

The home side did have a penalty awarded but then overturned after a VAR check, while Peter Gulacsi made a stunning late save to deny Leon Goretzka a winner, but Thiago acknowledged the overall performance was not good enough to earn three points.

"We didn't play the game that we had to play. We were playing at home and we have to win all of the games which we play here," Thiago said.

"We played very well in the first half but then we let it go and didn't control the game.

"It's not about attack or defence, it's about the team and it's a team game. The energy was not enough to be dominant in the game, we were not in our best mood in the game, that's why we didn't enjoy it.

"The good thing is each game depends on us. That's a good thing. We work a lot to be in the place where we are right now but we have to improve a lot."

Meanwhile, Leipzig goalkeeper Gulacsi was left disappointed with his team's failure to snatch the win, even though the visitors' executed Julian Nagelsmann's gameplan.

"I think today the plan worked really well," the Hungary international said.

"We wanted to stay really compact against Bayern - they have such offensive quality, they have scored many goals, so we wanted to stay stable.

"But we also wanted to threaten and to use our speed up front, and in the second half, we could do that. Maybe a draw is a fair result but we played our best game so far here.

"It's not about the position in the league, it's more that we had the chance to beat the best team in Germany away from home. It's a step forward but I think there was more in the game [than a point]."

Timo Werner missed a glorious chance to send RB Leipzig top of the Bundesliga as they drew 0-0 with leaders Bayern Munich.

Six successive Bundesliga wins prior to Sunday's encounter at Allianz Arena saw Bayern overtake Leipzig, who have faulted in recent weeks.

But Hansi Flick's side failed to extend their lead at the top as they were frustrated by a resilient Leipzig rearguard and it was the visitors who had the best chances – Marcel Sabitzer and Werner fluffing their lines.

Bayern were awarded a penalty which was subsequently overturned by VAR and Leon Goretzka missed a late chance, but the Bundesliga leaders had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Peter Gulacsi had to make the game's first save five minutes in, diving to his left and tipping Thiago Alcantara's curling strike wide.

Gulacsi might have been tested further six minutes later, but Marcel Halstenberg superbly blocked Goretzka's effort.

Robert Lewandowski looked set to break the deadlock as half-time approached, only for Dayot Upamecano to make a fantastic last-ditch block.

For all Bayern's dominance, they should have been behind in the first minute of the second half, yet Sabitzer let them off the hook when he blazed over from close range.

Jerome Boateng spared Manuel Neuer's blushes with a vital interception a few moments later, though Bayern seemed to have been handed a reprieve when Upamecano brought down Lewandowski, only for the penalty to be overturned for offside.

Bayern's defence continued to live dangerously, and the hosts should have been punished when Werner met Christopher Nkunku's cross but, despite having time to pick his spot, he lashed well wide.

Werner's profligacy seemed all set to prove costly when Goretzka broke through with 10 minutes remaining, but Gulacsi pulled off a brilliant save to secure a well-earned point.

What does it mean? Tight at the top

As Borussia Monchengladbach did not play on Sunday due to adverse weather, Bayern could have gone four points clear of Leipzig and six ahead of the chasing pack with a win.

But, as it is, the title race remains a closely contested one and, even though there is a large portion of the season to go, it seems like it could go to the wire.

Nagelsmann gets his tactics spot on

It has been a difficult start to 2020 for Leipzig, though on Sunday Julian Nagelsmann – a coach who has long been touted as a potential future Bayern boss – set his team up brilliantly. With Upamecano marshalling the defence and the pace of Werner up top, Leipzig offered plenty, though ultimately failed to take their chances.

Werner and Sabitzer misses to prove costly in title race?

With it so congested at the top, the two misses from Werner and Sabitzer could ultimately prove decisive in regards to which team clinches the title this season.

There is no player Nagelsmann would have rather seen meet Nkunku's cross than Werner but, in a rare show of profligacy, the Germany international blew the moment.

What's next?

Bayern face Cologne on Sunday in their next Bundesliga outing, while Leipzig host struggling Werder Bremen a day earlier.

Bayern Munich versus RB Leipzig – if ever a fixture was about more than the game itself, this was it.

In its plainest reading, absent any nuance, Sunday's Bundesliga clash at the Allianz Arena pitted history, heritage and prestige against, well, Leipzig.

Bayern, with their 29 league titles and five European Cups, are a global powerhouse, a team that would spring more readily to mind than almost any other if one were prompted to name one.

As with any club that boasts such a well-stocked trophy room, Bayern are not without their detractors, but respect for the Bavarians is universal, even if sometimes begrudging.

The same cannot be said for Leipzig.

Created in 2009 in circumstances not compatible with any club seeking to be ordained as 'proper' in the eyes of football's ardent traditionalists, RB Leipzig – and the prefix matters here – were at first perceived as a distasteful anomaly.

Having assumed SSV Markranstadt's spot in the fifth tier, consuming that club in the process, the Red Bull-owned franchise were far enough down the pecking order that their business model, a source of concern and even disgust to many, was not considered a threat to the established order.

But their very existence, at whatever level, was still too much for a great many supporters in Germany, who found little trouble distinguishing between Leipzig's unbridled commercialism – typified by their subversion of the '50+1' ownership rule – and their own clubs' multi-million Euro deals for stadium naming rights, kit sponsorship and the like.

It is against this backdrop of cynicism and widespread antipathy that Leipzig have risen to the heights of top-flight title contenders, making Sunday's trip to Munich a genuine six-pointer. 

Julian Nagelsmann insisted before the game that it would not be decisive, with his side heading into it one point behind the reigning champions.

Leipzig's head coach, himself just 32, has a young and exciting squad at his disposal – the youngest, in fact, in the division – and they play in a manner that makes you want to forget the stuffy off-field issues that colour people's judgement of this fledgling club.

But Bayern are the toughest of nuts to crack and, seeking an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title, it was the hosts who carried themselves with greater purpose on the pitch.

Thomas Muller passed when he should have shot, while Robert Lewandowski did get an effort away but saw it deflected wide during a first half in which the hosts were on top.

Bayern were awarded a penalty that was soon taken away after Lewandowski had strayed offside before being fouled, while Timo Werner's profligate finishing ensured the lively Christopher Nkunku's excellent cross went unrewarded.

Goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi's excellent late stop from Leon Goretzka ensured that, as in September's meeting in Leipzig, the spoils were split between two clubs who share little else in common.

Storm Ciara was causing havoc with football across Europe as Bundesliga and Eredivisie matches scheduled for Sunday were called off because of the extreme weather.

German football chiefs expect the top-of-the-table match between Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig to go ahead as scheduled at 18:00 local time (17:00 GMT).

However, the Rhine derby between Borussia Monchengladbach and Cologne, which was due to be played at 15:30 local time (14:30 GMT), was postponed due to the poor conditions caused by Storm Sabine, as it has been called in Germany.

The Bundesliga announced on its website: "With the high winds and widespread rains that have been battering parts of Europe showing no signs of abating, the Deutsche Fussball Liga, in consultation with the local authorities, have decided to postpone the fixture on safety grounds."

It said a new date for the match would be announced in the coming weeks.

Dutch Eredivisie officials made an early call on the weather, deciding on Saturday that Sunday's schedule would be cancelled.

That meant games including Utrecht's home fixture against leaders Ajax, and second-placed AZ's clash with third-placed Feyenoord, were postponed to a later date.

Belgium's Pro League also cancelled all Sunday fixtures.

Football was set to continue in England, however, with Sheffield United preparing to face Bournemouth and Manchester City hosting West Ham in Premier League action.

Top-flight fixtures in France, Spain and Italy look set to go ahead, along with the Six Nations rugby union clash between France and Italy in Paris.

 

Julian Nagelsmann insists the outcome will not decide anything, but RB Leipzig's trip to Bayern Munich is undoubtedly a pivotal moment in the Bundesliga title race.

A charging Bayern squad suddenly sit on top of the table, a point clear of their opponents. The reigning champions have hit top form, reeling off six league wins on the spin. They have scored 12 goals in their three outings since the mid-season break, too.

In contrast, Leipzig - who have enjoyed such a rapid rise since they were formed in 2009 - have stumbled in recent weeks.

A 2-0 defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt was followed by a 2-2 draw at home to Borussia Monchengladbach last time out. Sunday's trip to the Allianz Arena should tell us a lot more about their prospects of lasting the distance.

With help from Opta, we look at key statistics behind both teams' recent performances - and identify how a coaching change may turn out to be crucial in the final reckoning.

 

Leipzig out of luck, or are they wilting under pressure?

Vibrant, youthful, exciting – set aside the off-field politics that surrounds Leipzig's ownership, and there is little to dislike about them on the pitch.

But since the post-winter break, Leipzig have relinquished their position at the Bundesliga's summit and won just once in four matches across all competitions. If they weren't hopeful of a title challenge this could be dismissed as a blip, but given their lofty ambitions, it warrants investigation.

Even with the in-form Timo Werner, Leipzig have been far less impressive in front of goal. Before the break they had scored 67 times but their expected goals (xG) was 62 – since returning they've netted six times, which corresponds exactly with xG.

They're averaging more shots now, 18.5 per game as opposed to 16.5 before Christmas, but accuracy has dropped to 49 per cent from 59, while big-chance conversion has decreased spectacularly from 41 per cent to just 17.

Leipzig are still creating chances at an almost identical rate, so the data suggests a decrease in composure is to blame for their issues.

 

Demme departure a factor

It was always likely to be a blow to lose club captain Diego Demme, the tidy and tenacious midfielder Leipzig allowed to join Napoli in the January transfer window.

Given he is more of a defensive-minded player, it's difficult to attach too much importance to his absence from an attacking perspective, but even the smallest change can have a ripple effect – after all, Leipzig averaged 2.9 goals per match with him in the starting XI and just 1.7 without him.

Their win percentage also takes a dip from 65 to 44.4 per cent when Demme has not been in the line-up.

They averaged 2.2 points each match when the German started, but that plummets to 1.6 if he has been absent.

 

Bayern back in business

For a time in the first half of the season, it seemed possible we could be in for a Bundesliga title race without Bayern. However, last season provided a cautionary tale.

Bayern eventually came good in the 2018-19 campaign, finishing strongly enough to win the title by two points despite Borussia Dortmund – who ended up second – holding a nine-point lead over them at the end of the 15th matchday.

Statistically, there were only negligible differences between how Bayern performed before and after last season's winter break, but this term there are notable improvements, even if there is a smaller sample of games to look at post-break.

Big-chance conversion is up from 40 per cent to 53; shooting accuracy is now 64 per cent when it was 51; they're averaging four goals per game compared to 2.8 and conceding one every match, as opposed to 1.2.

Whereas last season Bayern appeared to simply profit off Dortmund's collapse, this term there is early evidence of genuine improvement.

With that coming off the back of several uninterrupted weeks of working with their new coach, Hansi Flick, it seems a leadership change might be paying dividends.

Julian Nagelsmann admits confidence at RB Leipzig has suffered due to recent results – but believes sitting second in the table may work to their advantage ahead of the clash with leaders Bayern Munich.

Leipzig go into the crucial fixture on a three-match winless run, their latest setback coming with a 3-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB-Pokal on Tuesday.

They have slipped off top spot in the table and the blip is hardly ideal preparation for taking on an in-form Bayern side, who have won six on the spin in the league.

Ahead of the trip to the Allianz Arena on Sunday, Nagelsmann called for his players to get back to the style of play that was so successful earlier in the campaign, insisting they must embrace the challenge of toppling Bayern, rather than hiding from it.

"It's no disgrace to say that after the last games we are not the most confident team," Nagelsmann told a Friday news conference. "If the results and our play aren't what we expect over 90 minutes, that's what happens.

"With a win, or by reaching the next round in the DFB-Pokal, we would have had more confidence for sure. But this is no disgrace - we don't need to hide.

"I told my players that this isn't bad because we are a young team, young staff, young club. We were easy-going for much of the season but recently we were missing this. We didn't risk enough.

"So now we are back to being the hunter, which maybe is good for us. We couldn't win our last two games in the league, one defeat and one draw, so now it's our turn again to win.

"We want to think about what we can win and not what we can lose."

The two teams drew 1-1 at the start of the season when Bayern still had Niko Kovac in charge.

Now Hansi Flick is at the helm, with the head coach - who is in the role until the end of the season - overseeing an upturn in fortunes that has led to the reigning champions surging to the summit.

"They are very stable, they have made huge progress since the start of the season," Nagelsmann said about Leipzig's illustrious opponents.

"We need to put in a top-quality performance because, even if Bayern have a normal day, sometimes even 100 per cent is not enough. We have to hope they don't have an extra special day."

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