Bundesliga fans can look forward to a couple of local derbies on this weekend's schedule. Meanwhile, Bayern look to bounce back with some goals after failing to earn all three points for the first time this season.
The weekend's schedule kicks off of Friday evening with Hannover, who are languishing well down in the bottom half of the table, hosting Hertha Berlin, who have had a surprisingly good start to the season. Sixth-placed Hertha will be looking to get back on track after suffering a 4-1 drubbing against the runaway train that has been Borussia Mönchengladbach since Andre Schubert took over as coach, while Hannover are coming off a narrow win in Hamburg.
On Saturday, it promises to be a busy game for Stuttgart keeper Przemyslaw Tyton as the Swabians travel to Munich to face the mighty Bayern. Here, the league's most potent attack meets one of the two leakiest defenses so far this season. The Bavarians promise to be in a bit of a foul mood after being held to a scoreless draw in Frankfurt last Friday. Stuttgart can only hope they took out all of their frustrations on Arsenal in midweek.
In the Rhineland, fans are getting geared up for the local derby between Bayer Leverkusen and FC Cologne. Leverkusen has some attacking quality and coming off narrow defeats in the league and the Champions League, they will be looking to take out their frustrations on their cross-Rhine rivals. Cologne, just two spots below Bayer in the table, will be hoping to exploit what can be an undisciplined defense in Leverkusen.
Also on Saturday, Gladbach look to keep Schubert's perfect Bundesliga record intact as they host Ingolstadt. A win at home in the Borussia Park would give Schubert a seventh consecutive win in the league, which would be a record start for any Bundesliga coach, let alone one who is still just a caretaker. Every victory makes it more difficult for sporting director Max Eberl not to give him the job on a more permanent basis.
Elsewhere, Hoffenheim take on Frankfurt and Wolfsburg look to hold onto their third place in the table as they travel to Mainz. In the late game, Hamburg coach Bruno Labbadia returns to his hometown of Darmstadt, where the Lillies are struggling through their first season in the Bundesliga in three decades.
On Sunday, perhaps the hottest contest of the bunch will see Schalke travel the few kilometers it takes to get to local rivals Borussia Dortmund. Schalke, in fourth place, will be looking for their first win in three league games in order to stay in touch with Wolfsburg - and Champions League territory.
The Royal Blues couldn't have gathered much confidence from their 1-1 Europa League draw in Prague. Dortmund, meanwhile, laid a 4-0 beating on Qabala in the Europa League and are solidly in second in the Bundesliga behind the seemingly untouchable Bayern. BVB's potent offense means it could be a long afternoon for Ralf Fährmann.
Dortmund, though, will forced to do without winger Marco Reus, who suffered a thigh injury in that Europa Cup clash on Thursday. On Friday, the club announced that he had sustained an adductor muscle fiber tear.
For Schalke, defender Joel Matip picked up a back problem in midweek and is doubtful for Sunday,while the talented Johannes Geis is suspended.
The final game of week 12 is a relegation battle, with last-placed Augsburg hosting Werder Bremen who are two places above them.
pfd/ (dpa, AFP, Reuters)