Bayern Munich hosts Heynckes' Bayer Leverkusen
Bayer Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes finds himself in the difficult situation of being able to dent his future club's hopes of Champions League football next season when his current team faces Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Second-place Leverkusen is nine points ahead of fourth-place Munich with five games left, and will re-ignite the title race if it wins in Munich, putting the pressure on Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund's lead has been cut to five points after winning only one of its last four games. It hosts Freiburg on Sunday.
For Bayern Munich, which sacked coach Louis van Gaal after slipping to fourth, third is the minimum aim to secure the Champions League playoff spot.
Interim coach Andries Jonker has been entrusted with that task before Heynckes takes over in the summer, pitting the 48-year-old Dutchman against his successor in his first game in charge.
"We have the most individual quality in the league, so we have to start picking up points and regain third place in the table," Bayern captain Philipp Lahm said. "We have a target, and we have to hit it."
Failure would be hugely embarrassing for the club, especially as the Champions League final will be played in Munich in 2012.
Heynckes, however, is concentrating on his current club, and insists Bayern's fate is none of his concern.
"Expectations are always high in Munich," the 65-year-old told Kicker on Thursday. "The incentive to be able to play Champions League in the coming season is hugely important. But I have no influence on that. Here and now, all that counts for me is Bayer Leverkusen."
Bayer has failed to win in Munich in 20 Bundesliga games, its last victory coming in 1989, but its task will be made easier with the suspension of Bayern's star winger, Arjen Robben.
The Dutch international was banned for two games for a red card after he insulted the referee following the 1-1 draw at Nuremberg last week.
Veteran goalkeeper Joerg Butt is likely to return in place of Thomas Kraft, whose mistake allowed Nuremberg equalize, and Jonker may opt to give striker Miroslav Klose a rare start alongside Mario Gomez.
Bastian Schweinsteiger's participation is in doubt after he pulled out of Thursday's training session due to an ankle injury.
"We're at home and we're the better team," he said, before he took the knock. "There's more quality in our squad. We have to show that, because Leverkusen are strong and their coach knows us best."
Heynckes, who has already had two stints as coach of Bayern, acknowledged: "The public's interest will be huge, perhaps in me even more because I'm switching to Bayern."
He predicted a 2-1 win for his current side. "And then I'll jump for joy!"
Dortmund's top scorer with 13 goals, Lucas Barrios, will miss the game against Freiburg because of a groin injury, but Robert Lewandowski will start in his place.
Meanwhile, league top scorer Papiss Demba Cisse will hope to add to his tally of 20 as he helps Freiburg's push for the Europa League.
Mainz gets the weekend's action under way on Friday when it hosts bottom side Borussia Moenchengladbach.
On Saturday, Hannover hopes to consolidate third place with a victory at Hamburger SV; Felix Magath's Wolfsburg hosts St. Pauli in a relegation battle; and it's Hoffenheim vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, Cologne vs. Stuttgart, and Kaiserslautern vs. Nuremberg.
In Saturday's late game, relegation-threatened Werder Bremen welcomes Champions League semifinalists Schalke.