Bundesliga preview: Dortmund aim to hold off chasing Bayern
Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund have the opportunity to put the pressure on rivals Bayern Munich when they host Stuttgart on Friday.
A win at the Signal-Iduna-Park would move the defending champions eight points clear of chasing Bayern ahead of their trip to Nuremberg on Saturday.
Since losing to Hannover on September 18, Dortmund are unbeaten in 21 matches in the league and showed their dominance with a 6-1 thrashing of lowly Cologne last week.
However, they will face a much tougher task against Stuttgart on Friday, with Bruno Labbadia's side on a five-match unbeaten run which has seen them concede just two goals.
Bayern will travel to Nuremberg on Saturday fresh from their 2-0 Champions League win against Marseille in France.
In domestic matters they have won three on the trot in the Bundesliga, scoring 15 goals in the process - a scary prospect for a Nuremberg side who have lost three in a row.
Bayern also boast the league's top scorer - Mario Gomez - who has 23 goals in 26 appearances, while wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben also look to be returning to peak form just at the right time for the Bavarians.
Third-placed Schalke will have to wait until Sunday to continue their challenge for a Champions League spot when they travel to Hoffenheim.
After seeing off fellow challengers Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 last week, Huub Stevens' side continued their European exploits on Thursday against Athletic Bilbao at the Veltins Arena.
They now have just three days to prepare for the trip to face Hoffenheim, who returned to winning ways with a come-from-behind 2-1 victory at Borussia Moenchengladbach last week.
That loss saw Gladbach drop to fourth below Schalke, but Lucien Favre's side can bounce back immediately on their trip to Hannover on Saturday.
Elsewhere, bottom side Kaiserslautern will be looking for their first win since October when Hamburg visit the Fritz-Walter Stadion, while Hertha Berlin can move out of the relegation zone with a win over Wolfsburg.
Freiburg travel to Bayer Leverkusen as they look to put space between themselves and the drop zone, while Werder Bremen continue their push for a Europa League berth when Mainz visit the Weserstadion.
Another game with massive implications for the relegation battle with be Augsburg's clash with Cologne, as both sides sit perilously close to the bottom three.