Dortmund aiming to slow Bayern's title charge
Defending champion Borussia Dortmund can slow Bayern Munich's title charge when the top two teams clash in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Dortmund would cut the gap in the standings to two points by winning in Munich for the second year in a row, but Bayern is keen to demonstrate its title credentials.
''We can take a big step against Dortmund. Everyone is straining at the leash,'' Munich defender Holger Badstuber said.
Earlier Saturday, third-place Werder Bremen can become the first side to win at No. 4 Borussia Moenchengladbach this season. Both sides are only separated from Dortmund on goal difference.
Fifth-place Schalke will be missing captain Benedikt Hoewedes and Peru winger Jefferson Farfan to injury in the home match against Nuremberg, while Hertha Berlin visits Freiburg, Cologne welcomes Mainz and Wolfsburg hosts Hannover.
On Sunday, Stuttgart plays Augsburg and Hamburger SV hosts Hoffenheim.
In Munich, all eyes will be on Dortmund's rising star Mario Goetze, who has been showered with praise by Bayern's bosses.
''We're always interested in taking good German players to Bayern,'' chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said.
Club president Uli Hoeness added: ''Such a likable player at Bayern, that would indeed be a fine thing.''
Dortmund defender Mats Hummels can understand Bayern's rationale behind the comments.
''Mario is an outstanding player, and there is also some tactical maneuvering behind it too,'' Hummels told Kicker magazine on Thursday.
The 19-year-old Goetze has played a vital role as Dortmund recovered from a shaky start to claim six wins and a draw from its past eight games in all competitions.
Dortmund chairman Hans-Joachim Watzke warned, however, that the visitors would find it hard to repeat last season's 3-1 success.
''They now have in Manuel Neuer one of the world's best goalkeepers. If Manuel had been with Bayern already last year, it would have been a lot closer,'' Watzke told the dapd news agency.
''Of course you have with Jupp Heynckes a very experienced and competent coach, who molds the individual strengths of the team into a compatible system. There aren't any weak points anymore.''
Bayern will miss the influence of midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is recovering from a broken collarbone that will keep him out until the New Year.
But Schweinsteiger is confident Bayern can overcome his absence to defeat the current closest competitor to his side for the title.
''We've got a lot more quality, we're far more compact than we were last season and our attackers are working hard to defend,'' Schweinsteiger said. ''They have a very energetic team which is very talented in attack, but they're behind us in the table this time. They're going to have to come at us.''
Arjen Robben could make his return to the side after the start of a season beset by groin and back problems. The Dutch winger is likely to start on the bench.
''He's training, so it looks good. But you never know what might happen with Arjen before Saturday,'' Schweinsteiger joked. ''If he is there, then personally I'd be even more confident of victory. He can make the difference.''