Two of the Bundesliga's most potent attacks go head-to-head when Bayer Leverkusen host Borussia Dortmund, but only one of them is really firing. Elsewhere, struggling Schalke face a must-win game against Mainz.
"Six points in the space of a few days have done us good," said Kevin Volland after scoring both goals in Bayer Leverkusen's 2-1 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf on Wednesday, "but we have to make sure we turn up in both halves against Dortmund on Saturday."
After three defeats from their opening three games, back-to-back victories over Mainz and Fortuna have lifted Leverkusen up the table, and the Europa League comeback against Ludogorets showed moral fortitude too, but results can be deceiving, and the pressure is still on coach Heiko Herrlich.
In Volland, Leon Bailey, Lucas Alario, Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz, the 46-year-old has one of the most formidable attacking units in the Bundesliga at his disposal. Yet Leverkusen, who missed out on Champions League football on goal difference last season, have still managed to create fewer chances than their opponents in four of their five league games so far.
They were fortunate to hold on in the second half against Mainz last weekend and that performance was followed by a drab opening 45 minutes in Düsseldorf, where the Werkself had goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to thank for keeping them in the game with two smart saves. In that first half, newly promoted Fortuna managed eight shots on goal. Leverkusen? Zero.
"We were asleep in the first half," admitted Volland. "But then a shock went through the team at halftime when Lars Bender woke up us."
They will need to be wide awake from the moment the whistle blows against Dortmund at 6:30 p.m. CET on Saturday though – just ask Nuremberg.
The newly promoted Franconians lasted only nine minutes at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday night before Jacob Bruun Larsen opened the scoring – and the floodgates, as BVB rampaged to a 7-0 win, captain Marco Reus adding two (including his 100th goal for his hometown club) and 19-year-old Achraf Hakimi scoring on his debut.
Leverkusen suffered a similar fate the last time they faced the Black and Yellows, losing 4-0 back in April. Most worryingly for them this time around, the man Dortmund signed to lead the line this season didn't even get off the bench against Nuremberg: Paco Alacer is back in the squad after recovering from an injury and is a candidate to start on Saturday.
In the fortunate 1-0 win over Brugge in the Champions League and the barely deserved draw in Hoffenheim, Dortmund had looked laborious, slow and clueless in their build-up play, leading coach Lucien Favre to demand more pace and quicker passing from his players against Nuremberg.
That's precisely what he got as Dortmund bewildered the visitors with their clever combinations. And if Heiko Herrlich can elicit a similar reaction from his equally well-stocked attack on Saturday, fans could be in for an exciting game.
Elsewhere on Matchday 6
— Schalke vs. Mainz: Schalke host Mainz as the Ruhr club desperately look to kick start their season and finally get some points on the board. Dominico Tedesco's side have lost all five of their league games this campaign and the coach is under pressure following a dismal second half at Freiburg in midweek. Schalke have only scored twice in the Bundesliga this season and face a Mainz side who have scored four and conceded only three; a tight game could be on the cards.
— Stuttgart vs. Werder Bremen: The visit of high-flying Werder Bremen is not what Stuttgart need right now. Die Schwaben have picked up just two points all season and face a Werder Bremen team who ended Hertha Berlin's fine start with a convincing win. Bremen have only been outscored by Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund this season and sit two points off the leaders. They will take some stopping in that kind of form.
— Nuremberg vs. Düsseldorf: The Bundesliga's two newest additions face off on Saturday. Nuremberg take on Fortuna Düsseldorf as both sides look to get back to winning ways. Fortuna, who have made a solid start to the campaign, were edged out by Leverkusen but Nuremberg need a confidence boost after being thrashed 7-0 by Borussia Dortmund. With both sides just looking to stay up this season, victory for either side would be significant.
Matchday 6 fixtures
Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munich (Friday, 8:30 p.m., CEST)
Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Saturday 3:30 p.m. CEST)
Stuttgart vs. Werder Bremen
Nuremberg vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf
Schalke vs. Mainz
Hoffenheim vs RB Leipzig
Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund (Saturday, 6:30 CEST)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Hannover (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. CEST)
Augsburg vs Freiburg (Sunday, 6:00 CEST)