Bundesliga Matchday 26: Bayern and Dortmund meet in crucial Der Klassiker
A baptism of fire lies in store for Thomas Tuchel, who faces a crucial Klassiker clash with Borussia Dortmund in his first game as Bayern Munich boss.
BVB hold a one-point advantage over Bayern at the Bundesliga's summit, while third-placed Union Berlin can close in on the top two by beating bottom side Stuttgart.
Elsewhere, Freiburg will be hoping to boost their chances of Champions League qualification against Hertha Berlin, knowing RB Leipzig could leapfrog them with a victory over Mainz.
At the other end of the table, Schalke have started to find some form and could lift themselves out of the drop zone by taking three points off Bayer Leverkusen.
Game of the weekend: Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Bayern and Dortmund are locked in a titanic tussle for the Bundesliga title.
Victory for either side could prove to be a defining moment in that race, particularly if Edin Terzic's men are able to triumph — extending their lead at the top to four points.
The visitors will have to put an end to their miserable run of eight consecutive league defeats at Bayern, however, which is the second-longest such streak in their history.
To do so, they will rely on the attacking talents of captain Marco Reus, who has scored more league goals against the Bavarian giants (eight) than any other active Bundesliga player.
Union Berlin vs Stuttgart (Saturday, 2.30pm)
With first and second playing each other, third-placed Union's clash with struggling Stuttgart hands Die Eisernen a golden opportunity to move closer to the teams above them.
Union are the Bundesliga's second-most in-form side since the turn of the year, collecting 21 points so far. Stuttgart, meanwhile, have earned the second-fewest in 2023, accruing just six.
Additionally, the capital club have not lost any of their last 18 home league games (12 wins, six draws), while the visitors are winless in their previous 22 on the road in the competition (10 draws, 12 defeats).
However, there is a glimmer of hope for the Swabians as manager Bruno Labbadia — set to take charge of his 100th league game at the club — has won each of his previous two top-flight meetings with Union.
Freiburg vs Hertha Berlin (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Freiburg face Hertha Berlin knowing that only a win will ensure that they remain in the top four by the end of Matchday 26.
Thankfully for the hosts, they have not lost any of their last nine home league meetings with the Old Lady, winning each of the previous four.
Furthermore, the Breisgau Brazilians are on an 11-game unbeaten Bundesliga run at home (eight wins, three draws) and should fancy their chances of extending that record against Sandro Schwarz's outfit, who have lost each of their last eight on the road in the competition.
Freiburg's Ritsu Doan will be hoping to continue his current hot streak, having already registered seven top-flight goal involvements this term (four goals, three assists) — as well as netting in his most recent two league outings.
RB Leipzig vs Mainz (Saturday, 2.30pm)
RB Leipzig are intent on moving back into the top four but must overcome a solid Mainz side in order to do so.
Bo Svensson's team come into this fixture in good form, having gone unbeaten in their last six league outings (four wins, two draws).
However, Leipzig's recent home record is superb, losing just one of their previous 13 in the competition on their own patch (10 wins, two draws).
Additionally, Timo Werner has netted a whopping 13 goals in just 14 Bundesliga appearances against Mainz — more than he has managed against any other club.
Schalke vs Bayer Leverkusen (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Schalke are second-bottom but appear to have turned a corner, following eight league matches without defeat (two wins, six draws).
They also boast the division's best defence in the second half of the season, conceding just four times from an expected goals against (xGA) tally of 8.5 — the lowest in the competition in that timeframe.
However, the hosts must contend with a desperately poor record against their next opponents Bayer Leverkusen. They have failed to win any of their previous seven league encounters (two draws, five defeats), losing each of the last three.
Furthermore, Xabi Alonso's men toppled reigning champions Bayern last time out to extend their unbeaten run in all competitions to seven games (six wins, one draw).
The weekend's other games
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Bochum (Friday, 7.30pm)
Wolfsburg vs Augsburg (Saturday, 2.30pm)
FC Cologne vs Borussia Monchengladbach (Sunday, 2.30pm)
Werder Bremen vs Hoffenheim (Sunday, 4.30pm)