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Bayern maintain iron-grip as Leipzig falter

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Leipzig’s head coach Ralph Hasenhuettl’s squad have struggled to meet the demands of having to play virtually every three days in recent weeks © AFP/File / ROBERT MICHAEL

BERLIN, Germany, Dec 13 RB Leipzig risk falling off the pace in the pack chasing run-away Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich with their coach Ralph Hasenhuettl admitting his side is flagging.

“We’re running close to empty and you can see the team is torturing itself,” said Hasenhuettl after his team scraped a 1-1 draw on Tuesday to just hold onto second place in the table.

The Austrian’s youthful squad have struggled to meet the demands of having to play virtually every three days in recent weeks, but now have just one game left before the Bundesliga breaks for winter.

Last week’s 2-1 home defeat against Besiktas meant they bowed out of the Champions League in the group stages and will face Napoli in the last 32 of the Europa League in February.

“It is especially difficult for our younger players. In this three-day rhythm, which goes on and on, you lose your power at some point,” admitted midfielder Kevin Kampl.

Leipzig are at risk of being caught by their league chasing rivals.

They have taken only five points in as many games while Bayern have tightened their iron-grip on first place by winning seven of their last eight Bundesliga games.

Jupp Heynckes’ Bavarians could open a ten-point gap if they beat bottom side Cologne and third-placed Schalke fail to beat Augsburg on Wednesday.

Leipzig are currently on 28 points, but Schalke, Dortmund, Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Moenchengladbach are all within three points behind.

In Wolfsburg on Tuesday, Leipzig struggled to get back on level terms after Paul Verhaegh slotted an early penalty for the hosts.

Hasenhuettl’s side finally got the break when Marcel Halstenburg equalised on 52 minutes.

However in the closing stages, goalkeeper Peter Gulasci pulled of a string of saves as Divock Origi, on loan from Liverpool, nearly restored Wolfsburg’s lead.

Leipzig then had defender Dayot Upamecano sent off in injury time for a second yellow card and the French teenager is suspended for Sunday’s visit of Hertha Berlin in Leipzig’s final Bundesliga game of 2017.

“Against, Hertha, we want to show some of our old strength again,” said Kampl.

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