Top two look to put aside cup upsets
The Bundesliga's top two, Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, go head to head on Sunday with both clubs looking to bounce back from midweek DFB-Pokal exits at the hands of lower-league opposition.
Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp already has a place in the Mainz history books as their most successful coach, but that record is now under threat from his successor, Thomas Tuchel. However, he expects a tough challenge this weekend when second-placed Dortmund visit the Bruchwegstadion.
"In three days' time, we meet one of the best teams in Germany at present and so we have got to ensure that we get back into the mood and the condition to be able to play at our best level against Dortmund for 90 minutes," said Tuchel after last night's disappointing loss to Alemannia Aachen.
Neither Tuchel nor Klopp are used to losing games this season. Mainz have won eight and lost one of their first nine league matches to lead the way by two points from Dortmund, who have also only lost one.
The frustration at losing in midweek was, therefore, evident. Tuchel was sent off by the referee for remonstrating with the fourth official while Klopp let his disappointment be known after his side's penalty shoot-out defeat to Offenbach.
"It is hard for us to accept this defeat because we really wanted to get into the next round," he said. "It hurts the club, it hurts the fans and it hurts the team. It feels really bad."
It can hardly feel much worse than life at Cologne right now, however. They parted company from their coach Zvonimir Soldo on Sunday after a crushing defeat at home to Werder Bremen saw them plummet to the foot of the table, having only one match all season. Frank Schafer was placed in temporary charge and his first challenge in the Bundesliga comes against Hamburg on Saturday.
Third-bottom Schalke have also only left the field triumphant once all term, and their coach Felix Magath is now starting to become impatient ahead of Saturday's clash with Bayer Leverkusen.
"We need to get points and get away from the bottom as quickly as possible," he said. "Only a point is not enough. There can be no more excuses."
Stuttgart coach Jens Keller is also not prepared to accept any excuses if his side does not build on its win over St Pauli last weekend with another victory at Wolfsburg, whose coach Steve McClaren read the riot act to his players last weekend after a 2-1 loss at Nurnberg.
Champions Bayern Munich made their worst start to a league season but now seem to have steadied the ship with a win and two draws in their last three games. They host Freiburg tomorrow night knowing a convincing win could take them as high as fourth in the table - a leap of seven places.
Elsewhere, high-flying Hoffenheim and Hannover jostle for third position, which is also within St Pauli's reach should they defeat Eintracht Frankfurt and other results go their way.
Finally, Werder Bremen host Nurnberg and struggling Kaiserslautern and Borussia Monchengladbach meet at the Betzenberg.