5 things to know about the Bundesliga weekend

Bundesliga leader Bayern Munich is in Morocco, seeking to win

the world club title, so Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund

have an opportunity to make up some ground in the last round before

the winter break.

No matter what, Bayern will spend the break atop the standings,

seven points ahead of Leverkusen and 12 points ahead of Dortmund.

Bayern kicks off the second half of the season on Jan. 24 against

Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Leverkusen travels to Werder Bremen and Dortmund hosts Hertha

Berlin. Here are five things to know about the Bundesliga

weekend:

LEWANDOWSKI vs. RAMOS: Dortmund’s home game against Hertha

features the league’s top two strikers, Robert Lewandowski with 11

goals and Adrian Ramos with 10. While Lewandowski is set to leave

Dortmund at the end of the season, Ramos looks likely to stay in

Berlin beyond 2015. The Colombia striker is negotiating to extend

his contract and says ”everything’s been good so far. I can well

imagine staying beyond 2015.” Hertha is enjoying a fine season

after promotion, sitting seventh in the standings.

Dortmund also announced the signing of teenage Japanese

midfielder Mitsuru Maruoka on loan from Cerezo Osaka until June

2015, with a longer option. Maruoka is expected to play for

Dortmund’s reserves at the start.

LEVERKUSEN AND DE BRUYNE: Leverkusen wants to sign forward Kevin

de Bruyne, who scored 10 goals for Werder Bremen before returning

to Chelsea. Kicker magazine says Leverkusen’s representatives met

with the Belgium forward and his agent this week. Other Bundelsiga

clubs, including Wolfsburg, are also reportedly interested in

signing de Bruyne.

Werder has won only one of its last 10 games and had dropped

dangerously close to the relegation zone. The northern German club

is also winless in its last 10 games against Leverkusen, with six

defeats. Werder also has conceded three or more goals in each of

its five matches. Leverkusen is coming off an unexpected 1-0 loss

at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.

HAMBURG’S FUTURE: With the January transfer window approaching,

many Bundesliga clubs are looking for players to sign. Hamburg is

seeking to retain the ones it already has. Pierre-Michel Lasogga, a

striker on loan from Hertha Berlin, has nine goals and Hamburg

wants to keep him, although Berlin has said it wants him back.

Hamburg sports director Oliver Kreuzer said he spoke with Lasogga

and his mother, the player’s agent, ”and I think it was

positive.”

Midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu was another talent Hamburg wants to

keep at least until 2018. Kreuzer said the club would let him go

only for an unspecified high transfer fee. ”For him, the threshold

of pain is very high,” Kreuzer said.

Hamburg hosts Mainz hoping to snap a two-match losing run.

Goalkeeper Rene Adler is still out injured but captain Rafael van

der Vaart is expected to return.

NUREMBERG’S FRUSTRATION: Nuremberg has still not won this

season, 16 matches into the schedule. It led 3-0 last weekend in

Hannover, only to see the home team equalize with a flurry of late

goals, including one that came from a glaring offside. ”Such games

can either make or break a team and I get the feeling that we are

now really determined,” sports director Martin Bader said.

Nuremberg hosts Schalke, which is 17 points behind Bayern in sixth

place.

Schalke has been very inconsistent, but it has managed to

advance to the last 16 in the Champions League and is hoping to

make sure of playing there next season as well. Coach Jens Keller

has been given assurances that he will stay in charge and he can

look to the return of injured players after the break.

FRANKFURT STOPS SLIDE: With its unexpected 1-0 win in

Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt stopped its 10-match winless run.

Frankfurt kicks off the final round on Friday at home against

Augsburg and wants to put together a winning run. ”You can be

behind for a long time but you can also get back quite quickly

too,” coach Armin Veh said.

Augsburg has been surprisingly solid this season and sits

eighth, nine points above Frankfurt. Halil Altintop, whose previous

clubs included Frankfurt, has been one of Augsburg’s most important

players. ”I am really having a great time and team spirit is

written in capital letters here,” Altintop said.