Bayern Munich have a good shot at taking top spot in the Bundesliga four weeks ahead of schedule, when they rekindle one of football's great rivalries away to Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.
Franck Ribery has been so impressive of late that few would bet against Bayern stretching their winning run to six, but the home side have a match-winner of their own in Marko Marin, who has recaptured his form just in time for this classic fixture.
Back in the 1970s, Bayern and Borussia were engaged in an epic struggle for Bundesliga supremacy. Bayern responded to back-to-back Gladbach titles by winning three in a row from 1972-74, only for 'the Foals' to match that feat in the next three seasons.
Ribery versus Marin does not have quite the ring of Franz Beckenbauer against Gunter Netzer, but it should be a good tussle nevertheless. While Ribery has found the net in his last four games, Marin, the gifted 19-year-old winger who just missed the cut for Germany's UEFA EURO 2008 squad, roared back to form by scoring both goals in last weekend's 2-0 win over Arminia Bielefeld.
That victory, a second in four games since Gladbach brought in Hans Meyer as coach, took the team up to fifth from bottom and gives them a nice boost heading into Saturday's game. Still, the new boss is under no illusions as to how tough the task will be. "Ribery, this little demon, is in unbelievable form," Meyer told reporters this week. "And the efficiency of the Bayern team has been incredible."
Efficient is a good word to describe Bayern's 2-1 win away to Schalke 04 last weekend, a result that took them to within a point of leaders Bayer Leverkusen. Schalke had far more of the ball, and created far more chances, but Ribery and Luca Toni proved deadly for Bayern, who will be strengthend by the return of full-back Philipp Lahm.
Coach Jurgen Klinsmann said recently that the target was for Bayern to be back top by the end of the first half of the season, but this weekend gives them an early opportunity, with their main rivals scrapping it out amongst themselves.
Leverkusen, who edged into top spot on goal difference despite blowing a 3-0 lead against Karlsruhe, are at home to sixth-placed Schalke on Saturday, while second-placed Hoffenheim host awkward Wolfsburg, who are seventh.
Fourth-placed Hamburg SV also face a tricky match as they travel to play Hertha Berlin, the team that surprised everyone by beating Hoffenheim last weekend.