All eyes will be on Wolfsburg during the second round of the German Cup, as the title holders face the dominant team in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich. There is much riding on the game for both sides.
Bayern Munich travel to northern Germany flying high in the Bundesliga standings, having maintained their seven-point lead over Dortmund by walking all over Cologne 4-0 at the weekend. The Bavarians have won all 10 of their league games this season, but as last week's Champions League defeat away to Arsenal proved last week, they are not invincible.
Bayern need to win in Wolfsburg on Tuesday to keep their hopes of completing the treble of league, cup and Champions League titles alive for this season. Some might argue that keeping those treble hopes alive might also contribute to keeping coach Pep Guardiola at the club beyond the end of this season, when his current deal expires.
"It is like a final," the Spaniard told a press conference on Monday.
However, he refused to answer any questions about his contract or his future at the club, insisting that "Wolfsburg are more important."
For Bayern winger Arjen Robben, who celebrated his return to action after an injury by scoring against Cologne on Saturday, Tuesday's match promises to be "like the Champions League."
Title defenders 'want to advance'
While Bayern are hoping to keep their hopes of achieving the treble alive, Cup holders Wolfsburg are hoping to defend their title against a team they would have rather met later in the tournament.
"I would have rather played them in the final," conceded Wolfsburg's sporting director, Klaus Allofs, who also expressed confidence that his team could get a result against the team that throttled them 5-1 in the Bundesliga a few weeks ago.
"We are the title holders, we are playing at home, so we are the slight favorites," Allofs said.
"I am not so pessimistic, we want to advance," coach Dieter Hecking said, while at the same time noting that his team would need to be in top form to stand any chance.
In all, 15 of the Bundesliga's 18 teams will be in action on Tuesday and Wednesday, with just Hoffenheim, Hamburg and Ingolstadt having been ousted in the first round. In Tuesday's other all-Bundesliga affair, newly promoted Darmstadt play host to Hannover.
Geis banned for Wednesday's rematch
Wednesday's lineup features two Bundesliga clashes, with Cologne traveling to Bremen and Schalke to face Borussia Mönchengladbach for the second time in the space of four days.
On Monday, Schalke learned that they would be without Johannes Geis in the Veltins Arena, after the DFB (German FA) announced that it had handed him a five-game suspension affecting all competitions for a brutal foul on Andre Hahn during Gladbach's 3-1 win on Sunday. Hahn, who sustained a tibial plateau fracture and a lateral meniscus tear in his left knee, is expected to be out of action for several months.
pfd/ (dpa, SID)