Bundesliga preview: Dortmund out to extend lead
Borussia Dortmund are determined to bounce back from their mid-week Europe exit when they visit Frankfurt on Saturday.
Dortmund have built up an 11-point lead over second-placed Bayer Leverkusen and, after a brilliant start to the season, are favourites to win their first Bundesliga crown since 2001/02.
But Juergen Klopp’s side will be disappointed at their European departure, with a 2-2 draw in Spain with Sevilla meaning they missed out on making the Round of 32 of the Europa League by the smallest of margins.
The European exit could have the potential to derail Dortmund’s season, but defender Mats Hummels says his side’s league and continental campaigns are seperate.
“This defeat in Sevilla is not going to affect our league routine,” Hummels told Eurosport.
“There is no reason to drop our heads now. We will try to come back from Frankfurt with the three points to go into the winter break with a warm feeling.”
Dortmund sit on 43 points from 16 games and a win will see them boast a record points tally in Germany before the break, with Bayern Munich having notched 44 from 17 matches in the 2005/06 season.
After starting against Sevilla, striker Lucas Barrios will continue to come back from injury in a match that Dortmund should win – despite sitting eighth, Frankfurt have won just one of their last five.
Leverkusen are not in action until Sunday in a mouth-watering home clash against fifth-placed Freiburg at the BayArena.
The hosts have lost just one game since August and have scored in 10 successive games, with opposition defences struggling to keep all of Leverkusen’s attacking threats quiet.
Goals have come from all areas of the pitch and may only increase, with Germany striker Stefan Kiessling set to return from injury for Jupp Heynckes’ side.
But Leverkusen will have to deal with Papiss Demba Cisse, who is equal top of the Bundesliga scoring charts and fresh from a double against Borussia Monchengladbach on Sunday.
Another clash on Sunday sure to excite is Bayern Munich’s trip to Stuttgart.
Bayern – still a whopping 17 points behind Dortmund – will not have it easy despite the fact Stuttgart sit second-from-bottom, with new manager Bruno Labbadia keen to see his new side impress at home.
Former Bayern player Labbadia becomes Stuttgart’s third manager of the season and will hope to arrest a run of form which has seen his new side winless in six.
But Bayern have not won on the road since November 3 – against Romanian side CFR Cluj in the Champions League – and will be wary of the effect the arrival of their new manager may have on Stuttgart’s squad.
In Friday’s match, bottom side Monchengladbach are at home to Hamburg.
Both sides have struggled of late, with Hamburg winning just one of their last five to drop to ninth while Monchengladbach’s defence has gone from bad to worse, conceding 25 goals in their last nine fixtures.
Michael Frontzeck is surely feeling the pressure from the club’s board and supporters with just two wins all season and with his side seven points from safety.
In other matches, a resurgent Schalke 04 host Cologne on Saturday, there is a mid-table clash between Werder Bremen and Kaiserslautern and Wolfsburg take on Hoffenheim.
Wolfsburg’s last five matches have ended in draws while Hoffenheim have notched three successive stalemates of their own, suggesting Saturday’s fixture will be close.
Hannover have won five in a row and travel to Nuremburg in a match in which the two sides competing could not have different form-lines – their opponents have not won in five.