The glitz and glamour of European competition makes way for domestic duties once more as Germany's represenatatives buckle down to the important business of winning the Bundesliga. Here's how Week Five shapes up.
Stuttgart return from UEFA Cup duty in Hungary to defend top spot
Some Bundesliga teams will return to action in Week Five fresh -- and some not so fresh -- from combative European competition in mid-week. After the highs and lows of their Champions League and UEFA Cup performances against teams like Real Madrid and Inter Milan, the German representatives will have to knuckle down once more for the domestic struggle for supremacy.
After a trip to Israel for their opening group stage game, the victorious players of Bayern Munich take the shorter journey to Dortmund to take on BVB. Borussia Dortmund were unlucky to lose a lead and eventually draw with Bochum last weekend and will hope to keep their concentration against one of their biggest rivals when the Bavarians arrive on Saturday.
Bayern's 1-0 win in the Champions League may have restored a little stability and faith in a side teetering on the edge of an early season internal meltdown and if all the elements of their star-studded team are all pulling in the same direction, Dortmund may have their hands full.
Buzzing Bayer back to earth
Bayer Leverkusen may still be on cloud nine by the time Nuremberg come calling this weekend after dispatching the widely recognized "best team in the world" in their 3-0 European mid-week romp. Real Madrid felt the cutting edge of Klaus Augenthaler's rapier team and after losing an unbeaten 14 game streak to FSV Mainz in Week Four, Leverkusen will want to keep the momentum of Wednesday night's stunning win going in their domestic campaign.
Ninth place Nuremberg floundered in the dullest game of the season so far last week, the 0-0 draw with an equally uninspiring Berlin, and may not fancy dealing with a buoyant Bayer. However, Nuremberg have had their moments this season and are not incapable of adding a second league defeat in a row to Leverkusen.
Leverkusen's conquerors Mainz face Arminia Bielefeld away on Saturday, looking down on their bottom of the league opponents from the lofty position of fourth spot. Both teams were promoted last season but things are now very different from how they were in the second Bundesliga. Mainz, in their first ever season, are relishing their top flight soccer and have put in some great performances. In-form Mainz striker Benni Auer will be one Bielefeld will have to watch as the home side attempt to keep the score down and chase some well needed points which could keep their solitary one company.
Stuttering champs need to settle nerves
Just above bottom placed Bielefeld sit Hanover 96, visitors to stuttering champions Werder Bremen on Saturday. Hanover are struggling at this early stage of the season and may be in two minds about the best course of action ahead of the weekend's journey to Bremen. The champions are presenting a very schizophrenic image so far.
Hanover could struggle against the cavalier Bremen team who are more than capable of turning over any team in the league on their day, or they could stand a decent chance of victory against the nervous Werder side which has slipped to two consecutive league defeats and one loss in Europe in the past three weeks.
Another team facing a crisis of confidence is Schalke 04 who play host to Borussia Mönchengladbach at the weekend. After waving goodbye to Jupp Heynckes, the manager-less and free-falling Gelsenkirchen side will face Mönchengladbach, Werder Bremen's victors from Week Four, after an unpredictable visit to Latvia in the UEFA Cup.
Mönchengladbach's Marek Heinz, celebrates after scroring against Werder Bremen.
Mönchengladbach in tenth are on the up after languishing in the bottom section of the league for the first three weeks of the campaign, more than doubling their points total with last week's win over the champions. They could heap more misery on the rudderless Royal Blues as Schalke's season looks likely to get worse before it gets better.
Relegation-zone dog fights begin already
Kaiserslautern are hoping that their worst is over and that things are now getting better after recording their first points of the season last week with the 3-2 away win against Hansa Rostock. The much-needed three points lifted Kaiserslautern off the bottom of the league and up to a decidedly less dodgy 14th.
On the way out of the relegation zone, they passed Hamburg, their visitors on Saturday, going in the opposite direction. Klaus Toppmöller's side had just managed to get themselves off the foot of the table a week before, passing the unenviable position to Kaiserslautern, before losing to Stuttgart in Week Four. Both teams are on shaky ground and the game could go either way with neither safely away from the drop zone.
The team just above both Kaiserslautern and Hamburg is Hansa Rostock who entertain one of the form teams at the moment, VfL Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg have back-to-back wins over Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 to keep the confidence flowing and will be looking for a third consecutive win to keep the pressure on Stuttgart at the top of the league. Hansa were unlucky to lose last week but will be fortunate to avoid a second defeat against second placed Wolfsburg if Thomas Brdaric and Co. are on fire once again.
No daylight between Bochum and Freiburg
Bochum tried everything to get a result against Dortmund but finsihed with a draw.
SC Freiburg and VfL Bochum meet on Sunday with almost identical records to date. Bochum in seventh scraped a 2-2 draw from their Ruhr Valley derby with Borussia Dortmund last week to remain equal on points and goal difference with eighth placed Freiburg, who also drew 2-2 with Hanover. There may be little to separate the teams on the day but Bochum's UEFA Cup clash with Standard Liege in Belgium on Thursday night may work in Freiburg's favour.
The other match on Sunday sees current league leaders VfB Stuttgart travel to the capital to take on Hertha Berlin. Stuttgart have shown irrepressible form at times so far this season and are value for money for their pole position. Berlin, however, have ground out results with little invention and need to find a spark from somewhere to prevent their season turning into a painfully slow slog to further mediocrity. The Berliners have the talent but a question mark remains over their desire. Stuttgart, on the other hand, look hungry in their bid for a first title since 1992.