With coach Pep Guardiola set to leave in the summer, Bayern Munich appear to be struggling with some off-field issues. Elsewhere, Julian Draxler can expect a heated reception upon his return to Gelsenkirchen.
Matthias Sammer, Bayern Munich's sporting director, was strikingly animated at Wednesday's pre-match press conference.
This is because there have been whispers of discontent from the Bayern camp recently, reportedly being made public by a 'mole.' At the same time, many wonder whether the news that Pep Guardiola has agreed to join Manchester City next season couldjeopardize the team's dream of winning the treble.
Sammer used the press conference to reject what he described as 'false' claims that Arturo Vidal had drunk alcohol to excess during Bayern's winter training camp in Qatar.
"He's in good shape," Sammer stressed, while Vidal said via social media that he had instructed his legal team to take action against the weekly in question.
It is against this backdrop that Bayern are preparing for Saturday's visit to Bayer Leverkusen, where they haven't managed a win in their last six Bundesliga games.
Last year's German Cup quarterfinal match between the two was tempestuous and intense with the Bavarians needing extra time and penalties to progress. If the Bundesliga champions, who hold an eight-point lead over second-placed Dortmund, are to drop points anywhere, Leverkusen seems as good a bet as any.
"I definitely think that Bayern respect us," midfielder Kevin Kampl told the Bundesliga's official website. "It's harder for a team when they know they're up against a side that are in good shape. I'm expecting the atmosphere to be great on Saturday evening and we will do all we can to keep the three points here."
Roger Schmidt's side have been hurt by a lack of consistency this season, although last week's 3-0 win over Hannover saw Leverkusen regain fourth-spot in the table. Javier Hernandez has been in a rich vein of form this season, but the Mexican's seven goals in his last five league appearances has been facilitated by Schmidt's decision to go with a two-man attack, as opposed to using "Chicharito" as a lone striker.
Kampl believes Hernandez and Stefan Kiessling will pose questions for the Bayern backline, but pointed to Leverkusen's creative options as being just as important.
"Both have a lot of experience, one abroad and the other in the Bundesliga," he said. "It's a good blend, but we must not forget the other players who are setting them up. Hakan Calhanoglu or Karim Bellarabi also deserve praise. It's nice for the lads up front to have such players behind them, setting them up."
Draxler returns to Schalke
The advice for 22-year-old Julian Draxler from Schalke midfielder Johannes Geis was frank: Be prepared for a hot reception. Draxler ended a 14-year association with the Royal Blues by signing a five-year deal to join Champions League rivals Wolfsburg in the summer transfer window. Draxler cited too much pressure as a reason for heading to cash-rich Wolfsburg.
Six months later, Draxler returns "home" for the first time, with Schalke and Wolfsburg both fighting for a place in next season's Champions League. Three goals this season is a disappointing return for the midfielder who cost Wolfsburg an estimated 36 million euros ($40 million), making him the most expensive purchase in the history of the club.
Leroy Sane and Max Meyer, meanwhile, have done a good job of filling Draxler's boots at Schalke, with each of them having scored in last week's 2-0 victory at Darmstadt.
While Schalke fans can be expected give Draxler a cool reception when he returns to the Veltins Arena, revenge won't necessarily be the motivation for Andre Breitenreiter's side. But if Schalke do manage to send Draxler back to Wolfsburg empty-handed, there will be a lot of happy people in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday.
Bundesliga matchday 20:
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Werder Bremen (Friday)
Schalke vs. Wolfsburg (Saturday)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Stuttgart
Hannover vs. Mainz
Hertha BSC vs. Borussia Dortmund
Ingolstadt vs. Augsburg
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Bayern Munich
Hamburg vs. Cologne (Sunday)
Hoffenheim vs. Darmstadt