BERLIN (AFP) - Bayern Munich will look to their fit-again French midfielder Franck Ribery on Saturday as the German giants hunt a ninth straight league win against Borussia Dortmund that could see them move top.
The 26-year-old star playmaker has been sidelined with a knee injury and has not started a Bundesliga game for more than four months.
But after scoring once and lasting 73 minutes in Wednesday's 6-2 drubbing of second-division side Furth in the German Cup, coach Louis van Gaal said he was looking to Ribery to shine against fifth-placed Dortmund.
"We should not forget that Franck has only played two 90-minute games in recent months. We need him against Dortmund and Fiorentina," said van Gaal, referring to Bayern's Champions League last 16 clash against the Italian outfit on February 17.
"I hope he can play from the beginning against Fiorentina," he added.
The German giants, 21 times Bundesliga champions, are second on goal difference behind local rivals Bayer Leverkusen, who host defending champions Wolfsburg.
If results go their way, Bayern could clinch top place for the first time since May 17, 2008.
The Frenchman was visibly annoyed at being substituted against Furth, but van Gaal said he needs to come back gradually as Bayern continue to battle on three fronts this season, in the Champions League, the Cup and the Bundesliga.
"Everyone wants to play for longer... I need to build him up and integrate him back into the team. That is what I am doing," he said.
Ribery himself said he was "sad" and "surprised" at being hauled off before the final whistle, but said he was pleased he was able to start.
Van Gaal's men will be hoping for a similar result to the last time the two sides met in the league, with Bayern thumping Dortmund 5-1 on September 12.
And the coach will also be willing former Chelsea striker Arjen Robben, who has found the net in the last three Bundesliga games, to continue his impressive goal-scoring run.
Meanwhile, top-of-the-table side Leverkusen will be aiming to keep holding Bayern at bay with three points against Wolfsburg, who have lost the form that took them to the Bundesliga crown last year, slumping to 12th in the table.
In a Sunday afternoon kick-off, third-placed Schalke, three points behind the leaders, host Cologne, also languishing in mid-table.
Fourth-placed Hamburg will be hoping their new star signing Ruud van Nistelrooy makes an immediate impact as they travel to Stuttgart.
The prolific Dutchman made his debut as a 90th-minute substitute during last week's 3-3 draw with Cologne but will likely play a more prominent role as Hamburg seek to close the gap on Schalke for an automatic Champions League berth.
Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table, Hertha Berlin, still eight points from relegation safety, will seek to bounce back from a 2-1 defeat against Werder Bremen as they host mid-table Mainz.
Bayer Leverkusen v VfL Wolfsburg, VfB Stuttgart v Hamburg, VfL Bochum v Hoffenheim, Hanover 96 v Werder Bremen, Hertha Berlin v Mainz 05, Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund
Schalke 04 v Cologne, Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg
|5||D. Van Buyten|
|17||M. van Bommel||21'|
|Coach: L. van Gaal|
for F. Ribéry 72'
for A. Robben 82'
|Howe: Swansea a benchmark for Bournemouth|
|New Parma to play in Serie D|
|Mata vows to hit the goal trail at United|
|Drogba ´perfect fit´ for Montreal|
|Berahino ´not yet´ ready for Tottenham - Irvine|
|Romero lauds caring Van Gaal|
|Jese flying at Real under Rafa|
|Sampdoria unwilling to pay €10m for Balotelli|
|Mourinho talks up Arsenal title chances|
|Hull sign Ryan Taylor, Sam Clucas|
|Kane, Pochettino hail MLS All-Star test|
|Di Santo sorry for swift Werder departure|
|Mourinho tells Ronaldo: Team honours come first|
|Khedira returns to Juve training|
|Celtic v Qarabag: Champions League return of utmost importance, says Collins|
|Pellegrini: Jovetic had to go|
|Manquillo completes Marseille move|
|Schalke reject Juve´s Draxler bid|
|Blanc: Di Maria deal ´close´|
|Di Santo debut ends in stalemate|
|Fire sign Drogba, trade him to Montreal Impact|
|FIFA and UEFA welcome ruling on third-party ownership|
|Juve kick off title defence against Udinese|
|Stoke sign free agent Afellay|
|Benitez confident Ramos will stay|
|Fenerbahce issue warning to fans|
|UEFA Champions League Preview: De Boer confident Ajax are ready for Vienna test|
|Bility: I am the favourite for FIFA presidency|
|Pienaar to miss start of season|
|Vietnam 1 Manchester City 8: Sterling shines as tourists run riot|
|All-Star Keane relishing Spurs clash|
|Shaun Wright-Phillips joins brother Bradley at Red Bulls|
|Inter 0 Real Madrid 3: Rodriguez stunner caps comfortable win|
|Villa sign Ayew|
|Watford complete Berghuis transfer|
|Robben returns to Bayern training|
|Pulis anxious to make West Brom additions|
|David Luiz eager to welcome ´fantastic´ Di Maria|
|Fernando injury free ahead of new campaign|
|Hummels blames weight issues for poor season|
|Defoe hoping for early Sunderland goals|
|Depay hints at identity of ´surprise´ United striker|
|Tigres UANL v River Plate: Hosts look to bounce back and make history|
|Crespo set for Villa move|
|Terry: I would never join a Premier League rival|
|Van Gaal coy on United future|
|Romero to cover potential De Gea exit - Van Gaal|
|Uruguay win men´s football gold at Pan Am Games|
|Pirlo thanks New York City fans for ´beautiful´ welcome|
|Mexico capitalised on ´the mistakes we made´ - Schafer|
|Herrera delighted with Mexico display|
|MLS Review: Whitecaps build happy home, Pirlo debuts|
|Guardado wins Golden Ball at Gold Cup|
|NZF confirms Olympics disqualification appeal|
|Jamaica 1 Mexico 3: CONCACAF giants complete form turnaround|
|New York Red Bulls 2 Benfica 1: Another scalp for MLS side|
|Romero signs with United|
|Moghreb Tetouan 1 Al Hilal Omdurman 1: Visitors go top|
|Van Gaal rules out Ronaldo bid|
|Pique open to Barca captaincy|
|Pirlo makes MLS bow in thrilling NYC victory|
|Coutinho and Can return for Liverpool U21s|
|Walcott deal ´closer´, says Wenger|
|Arsenal 1 Wolfsburg 0: Walcott the match-winner in Emirates Cup finale|
|Di Santo links up with Schalke squad|
|Lukaku treble sinks Hearts|
|Benitez again refutes Ronaldo rift rumours|
|Pepe sure Ramos will stay at Real|
|City target De Bruyne named Germany´s Player of the Year|
|Montero spoils McCarthy´s Palace debut|
|Lyon 0 Villarreal 2: Soriano, Baptistao seal comfortable win in Emirates Cup|
|Wijnaldum on target as Newcastle are held|
|Mourinho: Rivals trying to buy the title|
|Jovetic set for Inter medical|
|RFS in ´denial´ over racism issue, claims Football Against Racism in Europe|
|Salah not staying at Chelsea - Mourinho|
|Mbemba closes in on Newcastle switch|
|Ibrahimovic: Di Maria will take PSG to another level|
|Delph: Don´t compare me to Pogba|
|Dundee United sign Sneijder|
|Morata relishing new-look Juve strikeforce|
|Strachan "not scared" of England after World Cup qualifying draw|
|Brazil claim football, basketball, handball gold in Toronto|
|Lampard´s debut delayed again, Pirlo ready to play|
|Mourinho open to Premier League matches in US|
|MLS Review: Texas unites to hurt Galaxy|
|Luis Enrique: United can emulate Barca revival|
|Van Gaal singles out Januzaj, hails United´s forwards|
|Blanc still hopeful PSG will sign Di Maria|
|Irish international Cunningham seeks Bristol City exit|
|Italy embracing Spain challenge in World Cup qualifying|
|Dos Santos brothers in doubt for Gold Cup final|
|PSG 1 Chelsea 1 (aet, 5-6 on penalties): Courtois clinches victory for Mourinho´s men|
|United States 1 Panama 1 (aet, 2-3 on penalties): Mejia denies hosts third|
|ES Setif 1 Al Merreikh 1: Sudanese deny title-holders at home|
|CONCACAF admit referee errors in Gold Cup semi-final|
|Dutch favourites in Group A - Deschamps|
|Barcelona 1 Manchester United 3: Rooney, Lingard and Januzaj maintain winning start|