Bayer Leverkusen boss Peter Bosz is not surprised home advantage has been lost since the Bundesliga resumed behind closed doors.

Just three of 18 matches over the last two weekends have been won by host teams, with the absence of supporters widely cited as a likely factor.

Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and Hertha Berlin are the only sides to have won a home fixture over the past fortnight.

Leverkusen have notched impressive away victories at Werder Bremen and Borussia Monchengladbach in that time, but on Tuesday they will return to the BayArena for the first time since the league's suspension was lifted.

After two months in hiatus, the German top flight has made a smooth return, albeit with sterile atmospheres meaning home sides forsake the boost they previously gained from fans' encouragement.

"I don't think that's a coincidence," Bosz said on Monday, speaking about the sudden decline in home wins.

"It's easier for the away teams when there are no fans in the stadium. Without spectators, it comes down more to the quality of players on the teams."

Wolfsburg will be Tuesday's opposition for Leverkusen, who have won six of their past seven games to surge to fourth in the table.

Bosz, quoted on Leverkusen's official website, said: "Against Wolfsburg it will be tough again - we have to give 100 per cent over 90 minutes and absolutely win the game."

Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre is expecting Jadon Sancho and Mats Hummels to be involved in Tuesday's Klassiker against Bayern Munich, while Axel Witsel could also be in the squad.

Dortmund host Bayern in a potentially vital match for the title race, with Favre's side heading into the clash four points adrift of the pacesetters.

Both sides have resumed their Bundesliga campaigns following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus with a pair of wins – Dortmund beating rivals Schalke and Wolfsburg, while Bayern eased past Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Favre has had to contend with injury problems since the resumption, however. Sancho has only been fit enough to make two substitute appearances, Hummels was withdrawn halfway through Saturday's 2-0 win over Wolfsburg with an Achilles issue and Witsel has missed the past two fixtures with a muscular problem.

But there is a chance all three could take part in some capacity.

"I think Mats Hummels will be okay to play. I can't say for sure, but I'm 99 per cent [sure] he will be on the pitch," Favre said.

"Axel Witsel started to train with the team yesterday [Sunday]. He could be in the squad.

"Jadon was lacking training. He has now been training with the squad for 10 days. He played 20 minutes against Schalke and a little more against Wolfsburg. He did well. He is getting there slowly.

"He did well in training and slowly but steadily gets back to his old level. He is getting there, I don’t see a problem – we'll see."

Bayern warmed up for the trip to Dortmund with an entertaining 5-2 win over Frankfurt – Thomas Muller and Alphonso Davies catching the eye in particular for Die Roten.

Bayern Munich were taking on Borussia Dortmund in an all-Bundesliga Champions League final at Wembley after respectively dispatching Barcelona and Real Madrid.

And yet, much of the pre-match attention and soap opera in 2013 concerned a player who would not play, with some dark murmurings even questioning how fully his battle for fitness had been fought.

"The final was my big goal and in the past weeks I have battled hard for it," said Mario Gotze, Dortmund's sparkling 20-year-old forward. "I am unbelievably sorry that I will not be able to help the team in this important match."

The sincerity of that apology was questioned because, on the eve of the semi-final against Madrid, it emerged the jewel in Jurgen Klopp's BVB and German football's great hope would join Bayern after having his €37million release clause triggered.

"We don't know why the people who have leaked this have done so at such a delicate time. We can only speculate but we are all making the same suppositions," Klopp said in a barely-veiled swipe at Bayern.

After hammering Madrid 4-1 in the first leg – Robert Lewandowski scoring all four – Dortmund were hit by Gotze pulling his hamstring during the early stages of the return at the Santiago Bernabeu. It proved to be the last game of his first spell at the club and he looked on as his team-mates lost 2-1 to his colleagues of the near future.

Seven years on, Gotze is back at Dortmund having tasted the highest high football can offer and endured wretched lows. Again, an announcement has been made regarding an exit from Signal Iduna Park and he is unlikely to play against Bayern on Tuesday. Only this time, those twin factors bring shrugs rather than shrieks.

DORTMUND'S GOLDEN CHILD

Gotze was not the first player to cross the Klassiker divide and Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels would soon follow his lead.

But this defection cut deep because 'Super Mario' was one of their own – a youth product who arrived as an eight-year-old and progressed to give Klopp's gegenpressing machine an irresistible x-factor.

He also seemed to revel in tormenting Bayern.

Gotze claimed two assists as Dortmund won 3-1 at the Allianz Arena in 2011, their first away victory in the fixture for 20 years.

That result extinguished any remaining doubt that Klopp's men were on course for the title. The following season, Bayern opened up an early five-point lead, only for Gotze to score the only goal in the corresponding fixture and ignite a successful Bundesliga defence.

Jupp Heynckes' treble-bound stars emphatically reasserted themselves in 2012-13, although Gotze crashed home an equaliser to secure a 1-1 draw at the Allianz.

These repeated successes on enemy territory underlined what a crushing blow his loss was for Dortmund. However, for Gotze – a player dubbed the 'German Messi' who was ready to team up with Messi's mentor – it was impossible to see any downside.

 

ON TOP OF THE WORLD

On his return to Signal Iduna Park in November 2013, Gotze came off the bench to a furious barracking with the Klassiker locked at 0-0.

A swipe of his right boot opened the scoring, with all other Bayern players deliriously mobbing the non-celebrating man of the moment. Late strikes from Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller closed out a 3-0 victory and Pep Guardiola's side did not look back on a procession to the Bundesliga title.

That goal under such white-hot scrutiny would have been the highlight of any normal season.

But on July 13, 2014 at the Maracana, Gotze coolly chested down Andre Schurrle's cross and diverted a left-footed volley past Sergio Romero to give Germany a 1-0 win over Argentina in the World Cup final.

Messi and others were reduced to tears on the turf and Gotze was the toast of world football, partying with Rhianna in Rio.

His was a career heading for the stars, although a closer examination of life in Munich pointed towards the problems to come.

STRUGGLES UNDER PEP

Gotze's depiction as a Bayern flop is unfair if you look purely at the individual numbers he returned and three successive Bundesliga medals he pocketed.

An injury-ruined final season in Bavaria in 2015-16 preceded a cut-price return to Dortmund and did much to fuel that perception. Ultimately, the boundless promise of his early years means Gotze being merely good felt like failure.

The goal to break Dortmund hearts was one of 10 in 27 Bundesliga appearances in 2013-14, with 20 of those starts. Nine in 32 followed before he was restricted to 11 league starts in his and Guardiola's final season at the Allianz Arena.

"Technically, [Guardiola] was a tremendous asset," Gotze told DAZN in 2018, in an interview where he described Klopp as his "footballing father".

"But he is very focused on the game and doesn't think about players outside of his plan. He didn't have much empathy, and empathy is part of being a world-class coach."

Despite hard work on the part of both men, the marriage of superstar coach and star signing never truly clicked. The prospect of Gotze becoming Bayern's Messi in the false nine role vanished when Lewandowski arrived to provide his more traditional and prolific take on centre-forward duties.

There was another Klassiker goal in a 5-1 thumping of Dortmund in 2015 but, tellingly, Gotze did not start any of the six Champions League semi-final matches that came to define Guardiola's Bayern reign. In each leg of the 2016 aggregate loss to Atletico Madrid, he was an unused substitute.

Dortmund welcomed back their prodigal son with open arms, although the injury problems that dogged him at Bayern would not go away.

 

INJURY, ILLNESS AND FALSE DAWNS

The last of Gotze's 16 appearances in 2016-17 came in January. A month later he was withdrawn from training indefinitely due to a metabolic disorder.

It explained his persistent injuries and struggles with weight gain, making fools of those suspecting foul play at Wembley back in 2013. With the problem identified, there was optimism over rehabilitation and redemption.

Only, when Gotze returned, he did so to a Dortmund team in disarray.

The trauma of the nail bomb attack on their team bus before a Champions League quarter-final showdown with Monaco in 2017 preceded Thomas Tuchel's messy exit as head coach.

Peter Bosz followed as form collapsed midway through 2017-18 and Gotze endured an uneasy relationship with interim boss Peter Stoger.

"We took issue with Mario because he didn't do any of the things he was told to do," the coach said after substituting the forward at half-time as Dortmund crashed out of the Europa League.

Lucien Favre succeeded Stoger and has overseen a rejuvenation that places Dortmund, once more, with a shot at ending Bayern's supremacy heading into Tuesday's Klassiker.

But this is a team fired by the youthful brilliance of Achraf Hakimi, Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland. A team that looks like the future Gotze once was. A team he last started for in December and who he will leave on a free transfer at the end of this season.

"Right now, we are playing in 3-4-3 formation. So, I have been talking to Mario Gotze, and unfortunately, this is not the right system for him," Favre said before he duly served as an unused substitute during Saturday's 2-0 win at Wolfsburg.

The explanation does not really stand up to scrutiny when considering Julian Brandt's dazzling playmaking display in the recent 4-0 demolition of Schalke, nominally on the right of a front three but wreaking havoc all over the place through intelligent movement and silky touches.

At his best, Gotze could do likewise to the sturdiest defences. But he is a long way from those heights, or the fearless youngster who dribbled with pace and menace. Joachim Low has bemoaned the passing of that version and of a player he has capped once since 2016.

Therein lies the sadness in Gotze's forlorn exit from Der Klassiker, a fixture he once threatened to dominate. He seemingly had it all and at 27, soon to be without a club, you ruefully wonder how much he has left.

Neymar's return to Barcelona could be getting a little closer.

The Paris Saint-Germain star continues to be linked with a return to Camp Nou, where he left in 2017 for a world-record €222million.

While there is uncertainty over whether Barcelona can get a deal done, it seems it may be getting closer.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR CLOSER TO BARCELONA RETURN AS PSG EYE DEMBELE

Paris Saint-Germain remain very interested in signing Ousmane Dembele and it could help Neymar return to Barcelona, according to Sport.

France international Dembele has struggled with injuries since joining Barca from Borussia Dortmund in 2017, but the former Rennes attacker could be set for a return to his homeland.

However, Marca reports Neymar is not a priority for Barcelona with their focus on Inter star Lautaro Martinez and Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic.

Staying at Barcelona and Sport says the club are following Hertha Berlin's 18-year-old midfielder Lazar Samardzic.

 

ROUND-UP

- Timo Werner starred again for RB Leipzig on Sunday with a hat-trick against Mainz in the Bundesliga. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp held a virtual meeting with the forward in recent weeks, according to journalist Raphael Honigstein.

- With Bayern Munich deciding not to buy Philippe Coutinho, the Barcelona attacker's future remains unclear. Le 10 Sport reports Arsenal want to start talks with the playmaker's agent, with head coach Mikel Arteta dreaming of signing the Brazil international.

- Toni Kroos looks set to finish his career at Real Madrid. AS reports the 30-year-old midfielder has no interest in leaving Madrid, where he is contracted until 2023, amid links to MLS and the Chinese Super League.

- Odion Ighalo's Manchester United career may be over already. According to the Daily Mail, Shanghai Shenhua have rejected the Premier League club's requests to keep the forward – who has scored four goals in eight games for United – on loan for another three months.

- Could Raul Jimenez leave Wolves for Juventus? Todofichajes reports Juve offered Adrien Rabiot plus €30m (£26.7m) for the star forward.

- Less than a year after leaving Newcastle United, Rafael Benitez is being linked with a return. Benitez, now coach of Dalian Professional in China, wants to return to the club if their proposed takeover is resolved, and sign Manchester City defender John Stones and Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley.

Nothing about the Bundesliga's bio-secure return will ever entirely lose its capacity to jar the senses.

From socially distanced substitutes to masked staff and elbow-knocking celebrations, incongruous distractions from the 90 minutes at hand are never far away.

But the action so far has also demonstrated fleeting moments can briefly melt away the discomfort, when football's beauty floods the senses.

The first such instance came during in the 29th minute of Borussia Dortmund's deserted Revierderby showdown with Schalke. All it took was a nonchalant flick of Julian Brandt's right boot.

Brandt's first-time lay off into the space behind him gave Thorgan Hazard time to spot Erling Haaland sprinting towards the Schalke area. Both players needed just a touch apiece for a picturebook goal.

Haaland and Jadon Sancho are the headline-hogging sensations for Dortmund who, once again, stand a better chance than all the rest when it comes to ending Bayern Munich's Bundesliga hegemony.

A Bundesliga debutant at 17, a full Germany international in the same month he turned 20 and with a century of top-flight appearances to his name at 21, Brandt knows plenty when it comes to being labelled the next big thing.

Still only 24 and as Bayern lie in wait on Tuesday with the title on the line, there are indications Brandt is taking his game to new heights.

SHELLACKING SCHALKE

Following that wonderful contribution to Haaland's opener, Brandt continued to torment Schalke and orchestrated a thumping 4-0 win.

He supplied two assists and his three chances created were more than any other player on the pitch, as were 29 passes attempted in the opposition half and 19 duels contested – showing Brandt's thirst for both aspects of the game.

There were also five tackles – a level best alongside marauding two-goal hero Raphael Guerreiro – and Opta's touchmap showed a player stamping his influence all over the field.

A tearaway teen winger when Leverkusen snatched him from Wolfsburg and launched his top-flight career, Brandt's wide attacking qualities were rated so highly by Germany boss Joachim Low that he infamously made the 2018 World Cup squad at Leroy Sane's expense.

But since Peter Bosz started to use him in-field last season at the BayArena, Brandt has started to display several more irresistible strings to his bow.

"In the end I am the last person to be complaining about [where I play] because it is always down to how you interpret the position," Brandt said last week, having roved nominally from the right of a front three against Schalke. 

"If you have someone like Thomas Delaney, who is strong on the defensive side, next to you, then you can take certain liberties in terms of how far forward you can go. The centre is my favourite."

HERR REUS' HEIR?

"I've seen a lot of games involving Julian," Bosz told the Bundesliga's official website last season. "Back then he was playing on the wing, but I saw him as a midfielder."

The switch proved inspired as, in tandem with the similarly lavishly gifted Kai Havertz, Brandt wrought havoc during the second half of the campaign.

He finished 2018-19 with seven Bundesliga goals and 11 assists – the latter figure only behind Sancho and Bayern's Joshua Kimmich in the overall standings. Dortmund duly came calling for a player who has spent his career inhabiting football's gossip columns.

Brandt was initially deployed out wide once more, in and out of Lucien Favre's starting line-up, before the BVB boss followed Bosz's lead in making a tactical tweak that comes with some heavy symbolism.

When Favre was in charge of Borussia Monchengladbach almost a decade ago, he brought a young Marco Reus in from the flanks to cause maximum damage.

Reus is now the symbol of Dortmund's Yellow Wall of resistance, the club captain and the superstar who would not be tempted when Bayern batted their eyelashes.

Unfortunately, injuries also take up a hefty chunk of Reus' story and his absence from this latest edition of Der Klassiker feels wearyingly inevitable.

It would once have felt almost sacrilegious to suggest as much, but with Brandt in his current mood pulling the strings behind Sancho and Haaland, maybe Reus will not be missed.

"It was on a trip with the national team that he came to me the first time and told me that he absolutely wanted me to come to Dortmund," Brandt told Bundesliga.com, reflecting on how Reus did what he could to lay the groundwork for his move to Signal Iduna Park. "It triggers something in you when a player like Marco says something like that to you."

Perhaps Reus has seen the future and is ready to pass the baton. Regardless, Bayern must keep their sharpest focus on the present and the threat a buoyant Brandt represents this week.

Timo Werner could have scored even more goals for RB Leipzig against Mainz, according to head coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Werner netted a hat-trick as RB Leipzig climbed back into third in the Bundesliga with a 5-0 win on Sunday.

Linked heavily with a move to Liverpool, Werner became the first Bundesliga player to score two hat-tricks against the same opponent in a single season in 21 years.

But Nagelsmann felt the prolific forward could have netted even more for his side.

"I think we were also ready the last game for games without fans. I think we were well-focused in the last game too," he told a news conference.

"We just didn't have so many chances and didn't score so many goals like today. We started off pretty well and built pressure, I think it's a well-deserved victory.

"We had even more chances to score. I think even Timo Werner could have scored more goals.

"But especially his development after the Freiburg game is very interesting. He kept the ball really well, performed well. He had a good game."

Werner has scored 30 goals in 38 games in all competitions for RB Leipzig this season, including 24 in the Bundesliga.

Mainz did not have much joy against RB Leipzig in the 2019-20 Bundesliga season.

After suffering an 8-0 loss to Leipzig at the Red Bull Arena in November, Mainz succumbed to a 5-0 defeat against Julian Nagelsmann's side on Sunday.

With an aggregate score of 13-0 it was clearly a mismatch, but how does it compare to the records in Europe's top five leagues?

Opta delved through the archives to find out the greatest goalscoring margins between two teams in a single season.

Bundesliga

Leipzig's goal difference of 13 against Mainz does not constitute a record in Germany's top flight.

That honour belongs to Borussia Monchengladbach, who beat Braunschweig 10-0 and 4-0 in the 1984-85 season.

Eintracht Frankfurt put 14 past Rot-Weiss Essen in 1974-75 and 1860 Munich did it against Karlsruher in 1964-65, but they both conceded one.

Premier League

No side has scored more than 12 against another in a single Premier League campaign.

Blackburn Rovers had the better of a 12-1 aggregate score against sorry Nottingham Forest in the 1995-96 campaign – a scoreline Tottenham also recorded versus Wigan Athletic in 2009-10.

The only other team to claim the same goal difference against a single opponent is Liverpool against Ipswich Town in 2001-02, with the combined score from their two games being 11-0 to the Reds.

Ligue 1

The 1930s was seemingly a prolific period in French football.

After setting a record with a 13-0 aggregate victory over SO Montpellier in 1934-35, Sochaux surpassed it the next season.

Andre Abegglen scored seven as Sochaux overcame Valenciennes 12-1 and they followed it up with a 5-0 victory later in the campaign.

LaLiga

Barcelona are top of the list in LaLiga courtesy of a 16-0 aggregate score against Las Palmas in the 1959-60 campaign.

The Catalan giants won both fixtures 8-0, with Barca's Eulogio Martinez scoring one in the away game and five at Camp Nou.

Real Madrid are the only other team to score 16 against one team in the same season, also doing it in 1959-60 against Elche. However, they conceded three times.

Serie A

Italian teams have earned a reputation for being strong at the back over the years, but that has certainly not always been the case.

Milan (1950-51) and Padova (1949-50) hold the aggregate record of scoring 11 and not conceding in a single season against Palermo and Venezia respectively.

Torino scored a dozen times twice against Alessandria and Atalanta in the 1940s, but conceded twice in each of those seasons, while Inter put 12 past Lazio in the 1933-1934 campaign but also let two in.

Timo Werner has successfully added the awareness to his skillset and that has helped him become all the more unpredictable for defences, according to RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Germany international Werner was in lethal form on Sunday, scoring his third Bundesliga hat-trick of the season as Leipzig crushed struggling Mainz 5-0 away from home.

It took his tally to 24 in the league this term, a new personal best for the 24-year-old, who has been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool.

Much of Werner's career has been played from the left flank or on that side of the attack, but this term he has more regularly taken up central positions.

And Nagelsmann feels Werner's ability to combine the skills required in those differing roles is helping him get the better of defences, as he did once again on Sunday.

"Timo now has a good sense not only of letting himself attack on the wing, but also of going into the No. 10's position," Nagelsmann said after the Mainz win.

"Coupled with his speed, this makes him more variable and more difficult for his opponents to get to grips with him."

Leipzig had little difficulty sweeping Mainz aside and were 3-0 up by half-time. Their ruthless approach to the contest, effectively having the three points wrapped up by the 36th minute, impressed Nagelsmann.

He said: "Today we cleared things up relatively quickly. It was a very confident performance against Mainz.

"I really liked not only the result, but also the way it occurred here."

Werner added: "We played very well from the first minute and put pressure on the whole game.

"We absolutely wanted to secure the important three points for the qualification for the Champions League next season."

Victory put Leipzig back up to third, leaving them seven points adrift of the summit.

But with the top two, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, set to face each other on Tuesday, the title race could have been blown wide open before Leipzig play against Hertha Berlin the following day.

Timo Werner would be a good fit for Manchester United where he could expect to play a more integral role than if he were to join Liverpool, according to Owen Hargreaves.

RB Leipzig star Werner is enjoying a spectacular season, with his hat-trick against Mainz in Sunday's 5-0 win taking him to 30 goals for the campaign across all competitions.

For well over a year his future has been the subject of speculation, with Bayern Munich and Liverpool long considered to be the favourites to land him when he eventually leaves Leipzig.

Following a recent public rebuttal of Bayern, it seemed to leave Liverpool – who are coached by fellow German Jurgen Klopp – with a free run at the rapid frontman.

But former United midfielder Hargreaves thinks the Red Devils should make an attempt to lure him to Old Trafford, suggesting Werner would struggle to dislodge Roberto Firmino at Anfield.

"Well, he's not going to get past Bobby Firmino, who is one of my favourite players to watch," Hargreaves said while commentating for BT Sport.

"I think that's the thing. Wherever he goes, he has to play. With the way United play right now, I could see him there. They need a number nine.

"Chelsea could be a good fit, I just think he's perfect for Liverpool in a way, but he's not guaranteed to start. If he's happy rotating in the front three then yes, he'd be a great fit for Jurgen Klopp.

"He works hard, he's a good goal-scorer, he's a good team-mate, all those things they need but he's not going to play ahead of Roberto Firmino, I just don't see that. He's too good in that team."

Firmino has had a hand in 15 Premier League goals this term – Werner's goal-involvements figure in the Bundesliga is more than double at 31.

Timo Werner became the first Bundesliga player to score two hat-tricks against the same opponent in a single season in 21 years with his treble against Mainz on Sunday.

RB Leipzig star Werner, who has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool, hit three in an 8-0 win over Mainz in November and repeated the trick in a 5-0 success at Opel Arena this weekend.

The last player to register hat-tricks in two games against one opponent in the same Bundesliga season was Bayer Leverkusen's Ulf Kirsten against Borussia Monchengladbach in 1998-99.

Germany international Werner's tally for the 2019-20 Bundesliga campaign now stands at 24 – the best single-season return of his career.

David Wagner believes psychological problems are to blame for Schalke's sluggish return to Bundesliga action, while Suat Serdar is facing another spell on the sidelines.

After falling to a resounding 4-0 defeat to Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby last weekend, Schalke went down 3-0 at home to Augsburg on Sunday.

Eduard Lowen's magnificent free-kick put Heiko Herrlich's side in front after six minutes and Noah Sarenren Bazee doubled their advantage in the second half, punishing some lacklustre defending from Salif Sane and Jonjoe Kenny.

Levent Mercan was caught in possession by Augsburg substitute Sergio Cordova in injury time and the striker rounded Markus Schubert to complete the scoring.

Schalke sit eighth in the Bundesliga, 16 points adrift of the top four with nine games remaining, with the pressure mounting on Wagner.

"The game started badly. We weren't dangerous enough with all the possession we had," said Wagner.

"We were really tense in the second half. Conceding goals from individual errors is typical of the situation we find ourselves in right now.

"Now we need to support the lads so they start playing with confidence again. We are making too many individual errors leading to goals. A lot of it is psychological."

Serdar last week made his return from a broken toe sustained before the Bundesliga was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Germany international suffered another injury early in the second half and had to be replaced by Ahmed Kutucu in the 56th minute.

Wagner explained: "He suffered an injury to the head of his fibula. I can't say right now how serious it is. He is undergoing scans at the moment."

RB Leipzig were at their devastating best as they crushed Mainz 5-0 away from home on Sunday, Timo Werner's hat-trick helping to reinvigorate their Bundesliga title challenge.

Julian Nagelsmann's side had lost ground in their most recent domestic matches, drawing three in a row, but found a familiar groove again in their second outing since the season's resumption.

Leipzig played some wonderful football and blew Mainz away as they moved back up to third and within seven points of the summit.

Werner got Leipzig up and running early on with just his second goal in nine league games, before Yussuf Poulsen – also a scorer last weekend – and Marcel Sabitzer had relentless Leipzig effectively home and dry by half-time.

The hosts were fortunate to avoid a demolition in the second half, with Leipzig proving a little more wasteful with their finishing, but Werner still managed to add another two goals to complete his second hat-trick of the season against Mainz and take his tally to 30 for the campaign across all competitions.

Given Werner's exploits the last time these teams met, having a hand in six of Leipzig's goals during an 8-0 win, it was perhaps unsurprising – despite his recent struggles – that he would be the one to open the scoring here as he guided Konrad Laimer's low cross in from an acute angle.

Poulsen made it 2-0 soon after in the 23rd minute, rising to meet Sabitzer's cross with an emphatic header on his 250th appearance for the club.

The pair then swapped roles nine minutes before the break, Poulsen's cut-back teeing up Sabitzer for a first-time finish into the top-right corner after Mainz – who had little answer to Leipzig when in full flow – were caught by a devastating counter-attack.

Mainz were ruthlessly carved apart again just after the restart. The lively Kevin Kampl charged into the box after a one-two with Christopher Nkunku and pulled the ball back for Werner to apply the straightforward finish.

Several opportunities went begging for the visitors, who also had a Kampl effort disallowed for an apparent offside, but Werner did eventually complete his treble 15 minutes from time, racing on to a lofted pass from Poulsen and nudging the ball past the approaching Florian Muller.

 

What does it mean? Leipzig show they are up for the fight

This victory does not instantly put Leipzig back in the hunt for the title – after all, they remain seven points adrift of pacesetters Bayern.

But it is not inconceivable to think Die Roten might drop points at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday, and it is worth noting Leipzig have a relatively easy-going run-in – they will only face one of the current top eight before the season ends.

Delightful Kampl

Werner was obviously key, but Kampl was arguably even better. The Slovenian oozed class throughout in midfield, his use of the ball and ability on it helping to pull the answerless Mainz defence this way and that. He supplied three key passes and got an assist for the Germany striker's second strike – the only thing was missing was a goal, which Kampl was controversially denied by an offside decision in the second half.

St. Juste with a day to forget

Mainz centre-back Jerry St. Juste made one good clearance late on, though by that point the game was already lost. Before then, the Dutchman had done little to halt the Leipzig onslaught, and he failed to make a single tackle or interception.

What's next?

With Der Klassiker taking place a day prior, Leipzig could host Hertha Berlin on Wednesday with the title race having been blow open. Mainz have an entirely different reality, however, with their trip to Union Berlin on the same day providing them with a chance to increase the gap between them and the bottom three.

Franz Beckenbauer has detected no drop-off in player performance levels despite the absence of supporters amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bundesliga reached its second weekend of action since resuming behind closed doors after a two-month hiatus.

Bayern Munich honorary president Beckenbauer attended Saturday's entertaining 5-2 home win over Eintracht Frankfurt after joining the club's delegation at the invitation of chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

And while accepting having no fans present is not perfect, the former World Cup winning player and coach does not feel the level of play on the pitch has been particularly affected.

"It is not entirely satisfactory for the football fan because they are not allowed to go to the stadium, but there is no difference in the performance of the players," Beckenbauer said to sport1.

"I think that you can [play during the pandemic] if everyone adheres to the rules.

"In these circumstances, without fans and atmosphere, it was an excellent football game. Compliments to both teams, it was really, really good football.

"Bayern are in a very strong condition, but the Frankfurt players also played very well.

"They were 3-0 behind and then came back to 3-2. Then Bayern got dressed again and suddenly it was 5-2. It was a very interesting game."

Jerome Boateng is planning for his future at Bayern Munich rather than scoping out the possible next stops in his career - and he gives Hansi Flick all the credit. 

The defender had been toying with a move away from the Allianz Arena before Flick stepped in to replace previous head coach Niko Kovac in November. 

His contract runs to the end of the 2020-21 season, and the 31-year-old feels reassured about his Bayern career after being a mainstay of Flick's team. 

That was not always the case under Kovac, but the change has not only lit a flame under Bayern but sent confidence surging through Boateng. 

"Before Hansi Flick, I was already thinking about my future. At the moment, I feel good and can imagine that I will stay," Boateng told Welt am Sonntag. 

Boateng has been at Bayern since arriving from Manchester City in 2011. 

He added: "I need the trust of the coach and his coaching team. I have it again. 

"Even before the time with Hansi Flick, I trained well and hard, but was not allowed to play and never had the chance to get into my rhythm. 

"It is difficult for every player. Hansi Flick told me right from the start that he was planning with me and appreciated my qualities. Now I'm really enjoying football again." 

Under-fire Werder Bremen coach Florian Kohfeldt explained why he quickly went to the dressing room after his side's important 1-0 win over Freiburg.

A first-half goal from Leonardo Bittencourt was enough to lift Werder Bremen to a much-needed victory as they continued their fight against relegation in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Kohfeldt, who has faced criticism because of his side's position in the table, quickly left the field and said it was due to the circumstances amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"Self-protection, because I would have liked to take one or the other player in my arms, but I'm not allowed to do that at the moment," he told a news conference when asked about his move.

"I thought that I don't want to provide such pictures, because we are still in an exceptional situation. We are not allowed to cheer as usual.

"So I went into the changing room, sat down on my chair and was happy."

Werder Bremen are still two points behind Fortuna Dusseldorf, who occupy the relegation play-off spot, and six adrift of 15th-placed Mainz.

Since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963, Werder have spent every season bar one in the top flight, and Kohfeldt was pleased with his team's response at Freiburg.

"They gave all the emotions they have. It wasn't 99 per cent, it was 101 per cent of emotions. It's the base for what we need in the next weeks. We had to fight back," he said.

"On Monday it seemed so that we're nearly gone. That was the public perception. We didn't want to accept it. The players showed that we want to stay in this league.

"Christian [Streich, Freiburg coach] already said it that it was a lucky win but it was a win. We needed that now no matter in what way. It showed us that we can gain something, if we gave our best. Now we have to work on in order to play better."

Werder Bremen face fourth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday.

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