Bundesliga Matchday 17: Bayern wary of Cologne threat
Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich dropped points last time out and will be keen to bounce back against FC Cologne on Tuesday night.
In contrast, Borussia Dortmund's win on Sunday took them to within two points of second place — and they travel to out-of-form Mainz next.
Fourth and second face off when Freiburg host Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday, while third-placed Union Berlin visit mid-table Werder Bremen.
Meanwhile, RB Leipzig will look to build on their point against Bayern by beating bottom-of-the-league Schalke.
Game of the week: Bayern Munich vs FC Cologne (Tuesday, 7.30pm)
Bayern Munich were held to a 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig on their return to Bundesliga action on Friday night but are still five points clear at the top of the table.
They will be keen to avoid giving the chasing pack any hope, however, so must find a way to halt FC Cologne's momentum.
The Billy Goats recorded an emphatic 7-1 win against Werder Bremen on Saturday — their biggest Bundesliga victory since May 1990 — and will be hoping to spring a surprise in Munich.
Thankfully for the Bavarians, they have won each of their last nine encounters with Tuesday's visitors and are unbeaten in 16 matches against them (15 wins, one draw).
Mainz vs Borussia Dortmund (Wednesday, 5.30pm)
Borussia Dortmund have struggled with inconsistency this season and sit sixth in the standings as a result.
But after losing two league games in a row before the World Cup break, BVB emerged victorious from a seven-goal thriller against Augsburg to close the gap on the top four.
Jude Bellingham got his name on the scoresheet in that morale-boosting win, but the England ace will not face Bo Svensson's side due to a yellow card suspension.
Nevertheless, Edin Terzic's men will be confident of taking all three points — Dortmund have won on each of their last five visits to Wednesday's opponents.
Freiburg vs Eintracht Frankfurt (Wednesday, 7.30pm)
These two sides are only separated by goal difference ahead of this game — but they come into it off the back of very different results.
While Eintracht Frankfurt recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over struggling Schalke, Freiburg were hammered 6-0 at Wolfsburg. That was the Breisgau Brazilians' heaviest loss in the Bundesliga since their record defeat in 2011 (7-0 against Bayern Munich).
Frankfurt will certainly be confident with Randal Kolo Muani in their side — the Frenchman's tally of 10 assists in his first 15 German top-flight games is the quickest of any player since at least 2004-05, when detailed data collection began.
Die Adler head into Matchday 17 in second place — but Bayern are the only team to win a game in that position this season (three victories). The combined record of every other side to occupy that spot this term is four draws and eight defeats.
Schalke vs RB Leipzig (Tuesday, 5.30pm)
RB Leipzig's battling draw with Bayern Munich extended their unbeaten league run to nine games (six wins, three draws).
The result was not enough to keep them in the top four — but they will hope to climb back up the table by beating Schalke in Gelsenkirchen.
Leipzig have never lost a Bundesliga game against a promoted team (22 wins, three draws). Only two sides — Bayern (32) and Werder Bremen (29) — have ever put together longer such runs.
Schalke have scored just three times in their last eight league matches, meaning their total stands at a disappointing 13 goals in 16 outings this season.
Werder Bremen vs Union Berlin (Wednesday, 7.30pm)
Ole Werner will expect to see a reaction from his Werder Bremen outfit after suffering a humiliating 7-1 defeat at the hands of FC Cologne last time out — their worst loss in the top flight since 2016.
That result marked Die Werderaner's third successive defeat in the competition, the first time they have endured such a run under Werner.
Third-placed Union Berlin will provide a stern test for Wednesday's hosts, though the capital club have lost their last three Bundesliga road trips.
However, Union are still enjoying their best-ever first half of a season, having picked up 30 points from their 16 games so far.
The week's other games
Hertha Berlin vs Wolfsburg (Tuesday, 7.30pm)
Hoffenheim vs Stuttgart (Tuesday, 7.30pm)
Bayer Leverkusen vs Bochum (Wednesday, 7.30pm)
Augsburg vs Borussia Monchengladbach (Wednesday, 7.30pm)
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