With one of the closest starts to a campaign in years, one slip could mean the difference between keeping pace with the leaders or calling it a day. This is the reality for many teams as the Bundesliga enters Week Seven.
Rostock and Hanover need points to avoid being cut adrift at the bottom
The clash of the day is undoubtedly the match between reigning Bundesliga champions Werder Bremen and the team they deposed, Bayern Munich. Both teams of late have welcomed resurgent form but neither have shown their full power in the league to date.
In terms of form, Bayern have the edge going into Saturday's game with Dutch striker Roy Makaay leading by example at home and in Europe. The 3-1 win over SC Freiburg in Week Six and the 4-0 routing of Ajax Amsterdam ominously signals a return to cohesion in the Bayern ranks while Bremen thumped Bochum 4-1 in the league before heading to Spain to grab a 2-1 Champions League victory over Spanish champions Valencia. With just a point separating the two teams in fourth and fifth place, this match could either be an explosive or edgy affair.
Stuttgart brought more pain to Leverkusen in Week Six.
Another team on edge could be Bayer Leverkusen. Previously high-flying, Leverkusen have had their wings clipped in recent weeks after soaring to great heights with impressive wins over Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. Saturday's defeat at Stuttgart was the third game in a row without victory in the league and the creeping sensation of a team in freefall was exacerbated by the 4-2 midweek drubbing by Dynamo Kiev in Europe.
Hamburg come to BayArena on Saturday hoping to get a second straight win at the expense of a Leverkusen side currently without answers to the questions being asked of them. However, there could be no better opportunity for Bayer to get back on track than a thrashing of a Hamburg side which seems magnetically drawn to the bottom of the league
Hertha Berlin, losers to Hamburg last week, are in a similar position to Leverkusen -- a team on the slide but without the outstanding, high-scoring wins which have made Bayer's fall even more confounding. Berlin have yet to fire on any cylinders and have drawn five games out of six and scoring just five goals.
The defeat last week dragged them into the relegation zone as their opponents this week, Kaiserslautern, passed them in the opposite direction. Now in 13th, Kaiserslautern will hope to put more daylight between themselves and the drop zone by capitalizing on Berlin's apparent inability to raise their game for any occasion.
Wolves with their tails up
League leaders Wolfsburg are playing and celebrating like a team with belief.
A team which so far has no problems raising their game is VfL Wolfsburg. The current league leaders have fewer distractions this year and have channeled all their efforts into the league. It is currently paying dividends with five wins out of six. The wolves take on Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday, a team which has had a see-saw season so far.
Last week's draw with Hansa Rostock epitomised their campaign to date. It was a case of so near yet so far; a familiar story of having the advantage and losing it just as they had done the week before at Schalke. Not since the 3-1 win against Werder Bremen have Mönchengladbach looked completely at ease.
SC Freiburg will be looking to put the Bayern defeat behind them when FSV Mainz come visiting at the weekend. The southerners have been there and thereabouts in the top half of the league since it started but have not taken the chance to progress when it has been offered. Currently in ninth, it has been three weeks since they hit the relative heights of sixth place and the slow slide down the table will have to be arrested now before the mid-table mire swallows them up before the winter break.
Mainz keep their eyes on the summit
Mainz have caused a few surprises since joining the top flight with their combative and fearless style. The Bundesliga newcomers are still in fifth and have only the drop from fourth to concern them of late, a mere trifle for a team which has never been in the top division before. A win against Freiburg will keep Mainz in a battle they will be happy to engage in -- one for a European place.
Ewerthon prays for Dortmund's luck to change.
Maybe Borussia Dortmund will choose Week Seven to finally wake up and smell the mediocrity. Undoubtedly a big team in Germany, BVB have yet to justify the tag they have and have been sloppy and careless, snatching draws and defeats from the jaws of victory when it was harder to lose than win.
Although hanging on the tails of the breakaway group in eighth, Dortmund must beat Nuremberg on Saturday if they are to gain ground on the top teams which have almost twice as many points as them at this point in the season. To lose more ground will leave them with a huge task if a second championship in five years is to be secured.
Nuremburg have seen their own luck turn from good to bad. The dizzy heights of second place have slowly made way for more humble placings and in 11th, Nuremburg are in danger of calling it a day in terms of the title, even at this early stage. Europe may even be a tall order if the brakes aren't applied. Dortmund on a sloppy day may just be enough to stop the slide.
Rock bottom duo do battle
The two bottom teams meet in a desperate clash at the foot of the table. Last placed Hanover 96 travel to Hansa Rostock with both teams looking to give their campaigns a much-needed jump start. Unfortunately, even after seven games, a loss on Saturday for either team will push an ailing season closer to the flat line. Both teams have five points and a win could push them away from the drop zone but anything less will see them wallowing as others around them move further ahead.
But both teams should look at Arminia Bielefeld for inspiration. Bielefeld beat Hanover on Tuesday and as a result jumped an amazing ten slots into an incredible sixth place, such is the tightness of the table at this stage.
However, Delron Buckley's 79th-minute goal may have lifted them way up the league but they may face a harsh reality check when second placed Stuttgart come calling on Sunday. Stuttgart recorded a fine win over Bayer Leverkusen last week and will want to close the one-point gap on Wolfsburg with another victory.
Another Ruhr derby promises fireworks
The season is only seven games old but Schalke fans fear the worst.
In the last match of Week Seven, the tight-knit Ruhr area throws up another derby, this time Schalke 04 take on VfL Bochum. The neighbours are having contrasting seasons with Bochum recording their first loss last week at the hands of Werder Bremen while Schalke are having trouble getting any consistency. With both sides playing unpredictable stuff, this fiery derby could go either way.