Cup duo Dortmund, Bayern resume league fight
Having both secured their places in the German Cup final in midweek, Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund resume their battle for the league title this weekend.
With a five-point lead at the top of the table, Dortmund are at Cologne on Sunday while second-placed Bayern host Hannover on Saturday in a rich vein of form having scored 13 goals in their last two league games.
Bayern are hunting a treble of titles this season and face Marseille in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals.
With eight points separating Dortmund and third-placed Moenchengladbach, Bayern are realistically the only team who can catch the leaders with eight games to go.
The league title race could well be decided on 11 April when Munich face Borussia at Dortmund and the teams will also contest the German Cup final a month later on 12 May at Berlin's Olympic Stadium.
Just as he did last season, Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has discouraged his team from talking about the title, but captain Sebastian Kehl has said false modesty will do them no favours.
"If we say now we aren't serious title contenders then we are just making ourselves look ridiculous," he said. "With all modesty, we have 59 points. We are confident at the top and that is where we want to stay, of course."
Dortmund won a close game at Cologne 2-1 on their last visit there in October 2010 and Klopp expects another battle royal with the hosts, who are 15th, and are just three points above the relegation places.
"After playing 120 minutes of tough football, the guys still have the game in their bones," said Klopp, after their extra time Cup win at Greuther Fuerth in midweek. "We have had some spectacular games with them in recent years and we can expect another tough match."
Bayern have plenty to distract them as they attempt to catch Dortmund and take on Marseille both home and away before their away match at Borussia. "We have quite a few distractions to deal with in the coming weeks," admitted Bayern midfielder Toni Kroos.
Munich are on a roll in the league having blasted Hertha Berlin 6-0 in the capital last Saturday after hammering Hoffenheim 7-1 at the Allianz Arena a fortnight ago.
Third-placed Gladbach host Hoffenheim on Saturday and can expect to welcome back play maker Patrick Herrmann, who has just returned after breaking his collarbone.
At the other end of the table, there promises to be a relegation battle royal when Freiburg host bottom side Kaiserslautern, who sacked coach Marco Kurz on Tuesday and he has been replaced by Bulgarian coach Krasimir Balakov.
Freiburg are in 16th, the final relegation place, but are on the rise and are undefeated in their last three games, while Kaiserslautern are winless in their last 17 matches including 16 German league games.
German Bundesliga fixtures
VfL Wolfsburg v Hamburg
Bayern Munich v Hannover 96
Freiburg v Kaiserslautern
Borussia M'gladbach v Hoffenheim
Werder Bremen v Augsburg
Mainz 05 v Hertha Berlin
Schalke 04 v Bayer Leverkusen
VfB Stuttgart v Nuremberg, Cologne v Borussia Dortmund