Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann will be reunited with his former car-pool pal Domenico Tedesco as the Bundesliga leaders look to maintain their grip on the top of the table against RB Leipzig on Saturday.
Old friends Nagelsmann and Tedesco reunited as Bayern host Leipzig
Max Kruse has been on song for Union Berlin, but switched allegiances to Wolfsburg in the January transfer window
"It's always special when you're up against your old club," said Nagelsmann, who coached Leipzig for two years before leaving to take over at Bayern at the end of last season, at a press conference on Thursday.
The reunion will be all the more special this time around, as it pits Nagelsmann against his old friend and current Leipzig boss Tedesco.
Nagelsmann and Tedesco know each other well from their time together at Hoffenheim in 2015 and 2016, when they were both considered the rising stars of German coaching.
The pair used to share lifts to the sport school where they were studying for their coaching badge, and the Bayern coach admitted with a grin on Thursday that Tedesco got slightly better marks than he did.
But it is Nagelsmann who goes into Saturday's clash as strong favourite, with Bayern six points clear at the top of the table.
Leipzig, meanwhile, are hoping to reestablish themselves among the top four after a recent resurgence under their new coach.
Since taking over from Jesse Marsch in December, Tedesco has stabilised a floundering RB side and led them out of mid-table and up to sixth.
"Domenico always gives his teams a very good structure, and Leipzig are much more controlled now," said Nagelsmann.
The Bayern coach also insisted that their past friendship would not give either of them the edge in Saturday's duel.
"The nice thing about Domenico is that you can talk to him about other stuff. It's not like we spent all our time in the car talking about football. It's also a few years ago now, so we both still have our trade secrets," he said.
Leipzig travel to Munich without US international Tyler Adams, who picked up an injury in Sunday's World Cup qualifier against Canada.
Bayern, meanwhile, are still without Canada's Alphonso Davies, who has been out for several weeks with a heart muscle inflammation.
On Thursday, Nagelsmann said Davies was "feeling good", and would be doing further tests in the coming weeks.
Saturday's clash is not the only top-of-the-table battle this weekend, with second-place Borussia Dortmund set to take on third-place Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday.
Leverkusen are eight points behind Dortmund, but goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky said Thursday that his side were in good spirits after seven points from their last three games.
"We've earned a top-of-the-table clash, and we can challenge Dortmund," he told Kicker magazine.
The veteran striker shocked the Bundesliga last Sunday when he made a surprise move from high-flying minnows Union Berlin to struggling giants Wolfsburg.
Kruse was frank about the fact that he had moved for financial reasons, prompting Bild newspaper to label him a "mercenary".
The 33-year-old has been on fine form in recent weeks, leading Union's unlikely assault on the top four with three goals and two assists in his last four games.
He has swapped Union's Champions League charge for a relegation dogfight at Wolfsburg, a club where he spent a season once before in 2015-16.
Wolfsburg, who are just two points above the relegation zone, will be hoping he can make an immediate impact in Sunday's clash with fellow strugglers Greuther Fuerth.
10,000 - the number of fans allowed at Borussia Dortmund's clash with Bayer Leverkusen and most other Bundesliga stadiums, after German states agreed to loosen Covid curbs on mass events.
309 - Bundesliga games Manuel Neuer has won in his career. He is just one win away from equalling the record set by former Bayern keeper Oliver Kahn.
Hertha Berlin v VfL Bochum (1930)
VfB Stuttgart v Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz v Hoffenheim, Augsburg v Union Berlin, Arminia Bielefeld v Borussia Moenchengladbach, Cologne v Freiburg, Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig (1730)
Borussia Dortmund v Bayer Leverkusen, VfL Wolfsburg v Greuther Fuerth (1630)
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