Dortmund hopes to beat German points record
Borussia Dortmund needs to shake off the disappointment of Europa League elimination to set a Bundesliga record when it visits Eintracht Frankfurt in the final round before the winter break.
If Dortmund maintains its perfect away record and wins in Frankfurt on Saturday, it will end the first half season with 46 points, two more than Bayern Munich had halfway through the 2005-06 season.
With eight straight wins on the road, Dortmund already holds a record. Dortmund players say the elimination from the Europa League after a 2-2 draw in Sevilla on Wednesday will not affect their domestic campaign.
"We don't need to grieve, it won't negatively impact on the day to day of the Bundesliga," defender Mats Hummels said.
Midfielder Nuri Sahin said the team wanted to win in Frankfurt "at any cost."
"Then we can go relaxed into the winter break and put the game in Sevilla quietly behind us," Sahin said.
Japanese forward Shinji Kagawa said the Europa League exit was "annoying, but at the same time a good lesson."
With nothing else to worry about than the Bundesliga - Dortmund is also out of the German Cup - Juergen Klopp's team could end up dominating the season like few other teams before.
Defending champion Bayern Munich will benefit from the return of Arjen Robben and other injured players when the season resumes in mid-January. But it is hard to see Bayern overcoming a 17-point deficit. Bayer Leverkusen is 11 points behind in second place.
Klopp has the second youngest squad in the league after Hoffenheim, but it has conceded only nine goals while scoring 39. Since losing the season-opener to Leverkusen, Dortmund has won 14 of the next 15 games, with one draw.
Eintracht has three home losses this season and several injured players, but also Fanis Gekas, one of the scoring leaders with 13 goals.
Leverkusen plays on Sunday at home against Freiburg, one of the surprise teams. Freiburg has the other scoring leader, Papiss Demba Cisse, whose 13 goals have helped the team go up to fifth, but he is suspended for the match.
Hannover, another surprise that is third at 31 points, travels to Nuremberg on Saturday without top scorer Didier Ya Konan, who is out with a knee injury.
No. 4 Mainz visits St. Pauli, while Hamburger SV seeks to stop its free-fall when it visits last-place Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday.
Wolfsburg, winless in six games, needs to give coach Steve McClaren a lift, but has a tough home against Hoffenheim. Bayern captain Mark van Bommel has been linked with a move to Wolfsburg during the January transfer period.
Werder Bremen hosts Kaiserslautern and Schalke plays Cologne in Saturday's other games.
On Sunday, Bayern travels to Stuttgart for the southern derby.
Stuttgart goes into the match with its third coach of the season, Bruno Labbadia, who will seek to lift the club out of the relegation zone.
The 2007 Bundesliga champion is next-to-last, only two points ahead of Moenchengladbach and three points behind 16th-place Cologne.