The Bundesliga's 16th matchday kicks off with Mainz hosting Stuttgart. The weekend's schedule also features a couple of derbies as Bayern look to bounce back from their first defeat of the season- without Frank Ribery.
Despite being bitten hard by the injury bug Bayern should still like their chances when they host Ingolstadt in the first Bundesliga derby between the two Bavarian clubs. Bayern cruised to victory to finish top of their group in the Champions League in midweek, but are coming off a damper in Mönchengladback last weekend, where they suffered a 3-1 defeat to Andre Schubert's men - their first in the Bundesliga since he took over.
Ahead of Saturday's contest, Bayern stressed that they would not be taking their opponents lightly.
"They deserve to be where they are in the league (11th) and I hope they stay up (in the Bundesliga)," Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said. "They don't just play defensively and don't just stand at the back."
Ribery and Benatia add to injury woes
Coach Pep Guardiola will have to rearrange his starting lineup yet again on Saturday, after the news that Frank Ribery (pictured above), picked up a muscle strain in Zagreb and will be out for the rest of the year. Center back Medhi Benatia is also out after picking up a thigh strain in the Croatian capital.
The news is particularly bitter for Ribery, who just a week ago had returned to action after an absence of nine months due to an ankle injury. At his press conference on Friday, Guardiola also confirmed that Arjen Robben remained injured. Also out are David Alaba, Mario Götze, Douglas Costa, and Juan Bernat.
Champions League frustrations
Two teams that didn't fare so well in the Champions League this past week, face each other in what promises to be the most interesting game of matchday 16, as third-placed Mönchengladbach travel to eighth-placed Leverkusen in a Rhineland derby.
Gladbach are coming off a 4-2 defeat at Manchester City, which saw them not only crash out of the Champions League, but also miss the Europa League cut. Leverkusen, meanwhile, were unable to get the winning goal against a weakened Barcelona side, which they needed to reach the round of 16 in the world's top club competition.
Gladbach's coach Schubert is looking to extend his run of eight wins and two draws in the Bundesliga since he took over from Lucien Favre six games into the campaign, and he appears unconcerned about how the defeat in the north of England might affect his players going into Leverkusen.
"The boys are physically very stable and know how to evaluate the game," he said, adding that the match would be"between two teams who are eye to eye." His charges also have the slight advantage of having had one more day of rest than Leverkusen.
Schmidt feeling the heat
Schubert's opposite number, Roger Schmidt, is starting to feel the heat, having lost six games in the Bundesliga this season, almost equaling the total number of defeats Leverkusen suffered last season (seven), when they finished fourth.
He was also was extremely frustrated by the "Werkself's" failure to put away a plethora of chances against Barca on Wednesday, describing it as a "tragedy" that they failed to advance. On the other hand, he praised the fact that they did create the chances in the first place and said he hoped his charges could use the "momentum" from that performance to their advantage.
Matchday 16 in the Bundesliga:
Friday, December 11Mainz 0-0 Stuttgart
Saturday, December 12
Bayern Munich vs. Ingolstadt
Hoffenheim vs. Hannover
Darmstadt vs. Hertha Berlin
Wolfsburg vs. Hamburg
Werder Bremen vs. Cologne
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
Sunday, December 13
Augsburg vs. Schalke
Dortmund vs. Frankfurt