Bundesliga Matchday 31: Bayern closing in on title ahead of Der Klassiker
The stage is set for Bayern Munich to clinch an unprecedented 10th consecutive Bundesliga title on Matchday 31.
Julian Nagelsmann's men host rivals Borussia Dortmund on Saturday evening in the standout clash of the weekend.
Elsewhere, Hertha Berlin go head-to-head with Stuttgart in a potentially decisive encounter at the bottom, while Freiburg will look to maintain their top-four challenge against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Game of the week: Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund (Saturday, 5.30pm)
Bayern could not have wished for a more satisfying fixture in which to be crowned champions as they look to claim an eighth consecutive Der Klassiker victory in all competitions.
But Dortmund can stall the title celebrations if they pick up their 30th point of 2022. Only RB Leipzig (32) have taken more points than the visitors since the turn of the year.
Should the Bavarians get the job done at the Allianz Arena, they will become the first team from Europe's top five leagues to win 10 straight titles — beating Juventus' record of nine set in 2020.
The visitors' Tom Rothe made history last time out, becoming the youngest player to score on their Bundesliga debut (17 years and 169 days) as BVB thrashed Wolfsburg 6-1.
These two great rivals last faced off in December when Robert Lewandowski's brace helped Bayern edge a 3-2 thriller.
Here are the other big games to watch this weekend…
Hertha Berlin vs Stuttgart (Sunday, 4.30pm)
Hertha could open up a four-point gap between themselves and Stuttgart but they will have to string together back-to-back wins for the first time since October.
The Swabians head to the Olympiastadion having won just once on the road all season. However, they should need no more motivation than the fact that a victory will take them out of the bottom three.
History would appear to favour Hertha in this fixture. Only against Hamburg have they recorded more home wins (23) than against Stuttgart (21).
But the visitors have come into some semblance of form lately, losing only one of their last six games having suffered defeat in five of their previous six.
December's reverse meeting saw Stevan Jovetic bag a brace as Hertha came from 2-0 down to salvage a point.
Freiburg vs Borussia Monchengladbach (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Freiburg remain in contention for a Champions League debut — they could go fourth by making it three straight league wins for the first time in over a year.
As for Monchengladbach, who are firmly entrenched in mid-table, they will be hoping to secure only their second top-flight triumph away to the Breisgau Brazilians in 20 attempts.
The visitors will not find it easy to score though. Only Bayern have kept more clean sheets (11) than Freiburg's 10 so far this term.
However, Adi Hutter's men have kept clean sheets in each of their last two away outings and could win three consecutive Bundesliga away matches without conceding for the first time since March 1985.
In any case, the away side will just be hoping to avoid a repeat of December's meeting between these teams in which Freiburg thrashed them 6-0 at Borussia-Park for their biggest top-flight triumph.
Greuther Furth vs Bayer Leverkusen (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Greuther Furth know they are all but relegated but they could delay the inevitable with a surprise success against fourth-placed Bayer Leverkusen.
The visitors have looked out of sorts in their last couple of fixtures, failing to score in both. They have not gone three Bundesliga matches without finding the net since early 2018.
Furth's recent attacking record is even worse. They have drawn a blank in each of their last four outings and Stefan Leitl's side are the joint-lowest home scorers in the division with 13 goals.
Leverkusen will hope that a trip to the league's bottom team can get Patrik Schick back on the scoring trail — the 20-goal Czech frontman is on a three-match drought, his longest of the season.
Schick should draw inspiration from his previous encounter with Furth when he notched four goals as Gerardo Seoane's side trounced the Cloverleaves 7-1.
RB Leipzig vs Union Berlin (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Europa League semi-finalists RB Leipzig are looking to extend their unbeaten run to 16 games in all competitions and tighten their grip on third place.
The Red Bulls overcame Union Berlin in Wednesday night's DFB-Pokal semi-final avenging a 2-1 loss at a snowy Stadion An der Alten Forsterei last December.
But Urs Fischer's side make their second trip to the Red Bull Arena this week on a run of three straight Bundesliga wins, as they aim to qualify for Europe. The club from the capital have never won four in a row in the top flight.
As ever, Leipzig will be a significant threat on the counter-attack — their 10 goals from fast breaks this term is at least three more than any other team in the division.
However, the visitors ought to be up to the challenge — they have conceded a league-low one goal from such situations.
The weekend's other games
Wolfsburg vs Mainz (Friday, 7.30pm)
FC Cologne vs Arminia Bielefeld (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Hoffenheim (Saturday, 2.30pm)
Bochum vs Augsburg (Sunday, 2.30pm)
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