Dortmund look for revenge in Ruhr derby
Fresh from beating Arsenal away in the Champions League in midweek, Borussia Dortmund will be looking for a measure of revenge when they make the shorter trip to face Schalke in the Ruhr derby on Saturday.
Dortmund earned widespread praise last season as they made it to the Champions League final, but their fans will not forget the fact that they lost both meetings with their neighbours from 30 kilometres along the road.
A victory at the Veltins Arena would therefore allow Jurgen Klopp's side to get one over on the Royal Blues as well as keep the pressure on Bayern Munich, the leaders who come into the weekend a point clear of Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen.
While Dortmund were beating Arsenal 2-1 in London, Schalke were also in Champions League action on Tuesday, although they were outclassed 3-0 at home by Chelsea.
Jens Keller's men have only lost once in their last six Bundesliga outings, with that a 4-0 home hammering by Bayern, but they have beaten Leverkusen at home this season and will be determined to repeat their 2-1 derby triumph of March, when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 victory.
"That was the shadow that lay over last season for us and we need to make amends," said Klopp.
For Schalke, Huntelaar is missing but Kevin-Prince Boateng will be available to face the side with whom he had a spell in the 2008-09 season.
Upon signing for the Gelsenkirchen club, he was forced to retract earlier comments about Dortmund being his "favourite team". The rivalry between the clubs is fierce, and the nature of it has not been lost on Schalke's Japanese full-back Atsuto Uchida.
"When I came to Germany I was told straightaway that I wasn't allowed to wear anything yellow, and even to steer clear of black boots. That is how intense it is," he said.
"You never want to lose against Dortmund -- and we beat them twice last season. They're a fine team, but we'll be going out looking for another win this time as well."
After tasting victory in his first derby in charge, Keller is hoping for more of the same this weekend.
"You can feel the derby fever everywhere. Everyone knows how special this game is," said the man who was under severe pressure at the start of the campaign after Schalke took just one point from their first three games.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Bayern put their 34-match unbeaten run in the Bundesliga on the line when they entertain Hertha Berlin, the capital club who sit fourth.
A win will keep Pep Guardiola's reigning champions top and will see them go a whole year undefeated since a 2-1 loss to Leverkusen on October 28 2012.
Bayern, who are closing in on Hamburg's 30-year-old record 36-match unbeaten streak, have lost veteran Peruvian striker Claudio Pizarro for up to six weeks with a thigh muscle tear suffered in training.
That leaves Mario Mandzukic as their only fit centre-forward, although Guardiola should have no qualms about playing Thomas Mueller or Mario Goetze as a false nine.
After the controversy of Stefan Kiessling's 'phantom' goal that helped Leverkusen to a 2-1 win at Hoffenheim, Sami Hyypia's side crushed Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday and now host Augsburg on Saturday.
Further down the table, 16th-placed Nuremberg are still without a win as they prepare to face Stuttgart away on Friday in what will be Dutchman Gertjan Verbeek's first game in charge since he was appointed as the successor to the sacked Michael Wiesinger.
Fixtures (kick-offs 1330 GMT unless stated)
VfB Stuttgart v Nuremberg (1830 GMT)
Bayern Munich v Hertha Berlin, Schalke 04 v Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen v Augsburg, Hanover 96 v Hoffenheim, Mainz v Eintracht Braunschweig, Wolfsburg v Werder Bremen (1630 GMT)
Freiburg v Hamburg, Borussia Monchengladbach v Eintracht Frankfurt (1530 GMT)