Bayern's Jamal Musiala, center, and Leverkusen's Piero Hincapie, left, challenge...

Bayern's Jamal Musiala, center, and Leverkusen's Piero Hincapie, left, challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in Leverkusen, Germany, Sunday, March 19, 2023. Bayern Munich hosts Bayer Leverkusen when the Bundesliga returns from the international break with its biggest game of the season so far. Something will need to give on Friday between the only two teams remaining with perfect records. Leverkusen has racked up 11 goals in three wins from three games and leads on goal difference from Bayern. Credit: AP/Martin Meissner

BERLIN — Despite being so early in the season, Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen will return from the international break with a big game on the line.

The only two teams with perfect records in the Bundesliga will meet in Munich on Friday. Leverkusen has racked up 11 goals in three wins and leads Bayern on goal difference. The defending champions, meanwhile, had to fight back to earn a 2-1 win at Borussia Moenchengladbach in their last game.

Leverkusen has impressed with wins over Leipzig, Gladbach and Darmstadt and its strong start to the season has stoked hopes that Bayern finally has a rival that could potentially end its decade of dominance.

The Bavarian powerhouse has won every title since 2013.

Both teams are being led by new signings in attack — Bayern with England record scorer Harry Kane, and Leverkusen with Nigeria forward Victor Boniface. Together they have been involved in 10 goals for their teams so far.

Granit Xhaka is directing play for Leverkusen following his arrival from Arsenal. Xhaka’s off-season signing was just one of several that seem to have paid off quickly for Leverkusen sporting director Simon Rolfes.

Leverkusen right back Jeremie Frimpong has also starred for the team coached by Xabi Alonso. Frimpong told The Associated Press the aim is to “keep the fire burning” this season.

Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz, left, and Bayern's Joshua Kimmich, right, challenge...

Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz, left, and Bayern's Joshua Kimmich, right, challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in Leverkusen, Germany, Sunday, March 19, 2023. Bayern Munich hosts Bayer Leverkusen when the Bundesliga returns from the international break with its biggest game of the season so far. Something will need to give on Friday between the only two teams remaining with perfect records. Leverkusen has racked up 11 goals in three wins from three games and leads on goal difference from Bayern. Credit: AP/Martin Meissner

Leverkusen lost 4-0 on its last visit to Munich but beat the defending champions 2-1 last March in what was Alonso’s first game in charge against his former team. As a player, Alonso won three Bundesliga titles in a row with Bayern toward the end of his storied career.

“You could tell he was going to be a very successful coach from the way he played. And he's showing that now," Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said Thursday. "I learned a lot about soccer from watching Alonso play games, and unfortunately from having to play against him often enough, too.

“He was one of the defining figures of the national team, at Bayern, at Real Madrid, at Liverpool, in a central position in midfield, and he led his teams and achieved the greatest successes with his anticipation, his understanding of the game, but also with a natural aura. So it isn’t a big surprise that he is an outstanding coach.”

Tuchel arguably has Alonso to thank for his position at Bayern. The club's loss to Leverkusen in March was Julian Nagelsmann’s last as coach.

Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz, left, and Bayern's Joshua Kimmich, right, challenge...

Leverkusen's Florian Wirtz, left, and Bayern's Joshua Kimmich, right, challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich in Leverkusen, Germany, Sunday, March 19, 2023. Bayern Munich hosts Bayer Leverkusen when the Bundesliga returns from the international break with its biggest game of the season so far. Something will need to give on Friday between the only two teams remaining with perfect records. Leverkusen has racked up 11 goals in three wins from three games and leads on goal difference from Bayern. Credit: AP/Martin Meissner

But Tuchel, who replaced the fired Nagelsmann, has yet to reestablish the team’s unquestioned dominance amid boardroom turmoil. Bayern fired CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić almost immediately after winning the title.

For Leverkusen, Friday’s trip to Munich is a chance to measure the team’s progress against what remains the clear favorite for another league title.

“It’s the first real test after three games,” Leverkusen midfielder Robert Andrich told Kicker magazine. “Now we can see where we stand.”

Tuchel said midfielder Joshua Kimmich is “questionable” for the game after he missed Germany's 2-1 friendly win over France on Tuesday with a slight injury.

Bayern forward Jamal Musiala could play after recovering from the back problem that forced him to miss both of Germany's games.

“He has been training well the last two days and also without any pain,” Tuchel said of Musiala. “That means, if it stays that way today, he will definitely be in the squad, and then we'll see."

On Saturday, Borussia Dortmund, which blew its chance of winning the title on the final day of last season, faces a tough game at Freiburg.

Dortmund has been struggling since the season started and the team was whistled by its own supporters after a 2-2 draw against promoted Heidenheim in its last game. It was its second draw in two games after starting with a win over Cologne.

More soccer news

SUBSCRIBE

Unlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months

ACT NOWSALE ENDS SOON | CANCEL ANYTIME