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'
|Mashaba wants lessons to be learnt after AFCON exit|
|Mourinho refuses to wade into Costa incidents after Chelsea win|
|Football League Review: Bent double sends Derby second, Rotherham triumph|
|Chelsea 1 Liverpool 0 (aet, agg 2-1): Ivanovic settles action-packed League Cup semi-final|
|Milan 0 Lazio 1: Inzaghi future plunged into further doubt|
|Neymar dreaming of ending Brazil´s home hoodoo|
|South Africa 1 Ghana 2: Late Ayew winner seals qualification|
|Senegal 0 Algeria 2: Mahrez and Bentaleb dump Senegal out|
|Bocchetti poised to join Milan on loan|
|De Rossi suffers calf injury|
|Montano accuses Oldham of double standards after Evans saga|
|Bojan out for the season with ruptured cruciate|
|Cameroon v Ivory Coast: Renard defends Yaya Toure|
|Yanga-Mbiwa makes Roma move permanent|
|Guinea v Mali: Quarter-final berth on offer in Mongomo|
|Thohir: Inter not reliant on European football|
|Bremen land Vestergaard|
|Allegri refuses to rule out Cassano move|
|Mexes handed four-game ban after Lazio dismissal|
|Joyce reveals Valdes´ inspirational team-talk|
|CAF announces AFCON venue switches|
|Alcacer commits future to Valencia|
|Postecoglou calls for Aussie ´energy´|
|Everton confirm Eto´o departure to Sampdoria|
|Pochettino to stick with Vorm despite cup error|
|Barcelona are not favourites against Atletico, says Luis Enrique|
|Allegri wary of Parma backlash in Coppa Italia|
|Zidane urges Real to tie Ancelotti down|
|FIFPro: Transfer system failing football|
|Anderlecht condemn Standard´s Defour banner|
|Australia 2 UAE 0: Socceroos ease into home final|
|Barca overhaul youth system|
|FIFPro demands clubs respect contractual obligations|
|Mahmoud targeting World Cup place with Iraq|
|Fabregas wants Chelsea to show winning mentality|
|Rangers borrow £10m from Ashley´s Sports Direct|
|Lyon face anxious wait over Lacazette|
|Undermanned Lazio recall Perea|
|Ki wants South Korea to prove their superiority|
|Ghana´s Gyan wary of South Africa|
|Mashaba urges South Africa to attack|
|Benitez: Napoli deserved to win|
|Pacos de Ferreira 1 Benfica 0: Leaders fail from the spot|
|Serie A Review: Higuain at the double in controversial Napoli win, Udinese see off Empoli|
|I´m glad Rochdale haven´t made the news - Hughes|
|Getafe 2 Celta Vigo 1: Hosts come from behind for first win in 10|
|Real hit back at media reports over transfer dealings|
|Rochdale 1 Stoke City 4: Joy and angst for Bojan as Premier League side progress|
|Turkish Super Lig Review: Kuyt at the double in Fenerbahce win, Besiktas back on track|
|Senegal v Algeria: Morale is high, insists Gourcuff|
|Cassano leaves beleaguered Parma|
|Copa del Rey Preview: Atleti look to overturn Barca advantage, Espanyol wary|
|Atletico Madrid v Barcelona: Griezmann targets second-leg fightback|
|Sheffield United v Tottenham: Clough expects fired-up Spurs for second leg|
|Cape Verde 0 Zambia 0: Stalemate sends both sides out|
|Democratic Republic of Congo 1 Tunisia 1: Both teams qualify for quarter-finals|
|FA Cup fifth round: Middlesbrough handed Arsenal test|
|South Africa v Ghana: Must-win game for Mashaba´s men|
|Parma v Juventus: Serie A leaders strong favourites to reach semi-finals|
|Van Praag planning to stand for FIFA presidency|
|Inter snap up Brozovic|
|Van Persie unsure of long-term United future|
|Broken metatarsal rules El Shaarawy out for at least six weeks|
|FIFA: No disciplinary proceedings against Real|
|No Plan B if Guardiola goes - Rummenigge|
|Millwall take Hooiveld on loan|
|Chile v United States: Klinsmann has high hopes for young stars|
|Carver to lead Newcastle until end of season|
|Shenaishil taking positives from last-four exit|
|Neymar happy with life at Barca and Messi relationship|
|Lucas Silva ready for life at Real|
|Milan ´always with Inzaghi´ - Menez|
|Rodriguez living the dream at Real|
|Stielike expecting Australia in final|
|Mourinho not dwelling on Bradford defeat|
|Schweinsteiger under no pressure to extend Bayern contract|
|Herd heads to Wigan on loan|
|Inter defensive duo suffer hamstring tears|
|UAE coach Ali eyes Asian Cup final|
|Gattuso dreaming of managing Rangers|
|Fiorentina agree return of Gilardino on loan|
|Sakho hits back at critics|
|South Korea 2 Iraq 0: Kim books sixth Asian Cup final place|
|Sturridge could return against Chelsea|
|Zinnbauer backs Drobny as Hamburg first choice|
|Drogba targeting Chelsea stay|
|Postecoglou confident Australia squad can progress|
|UEFA does not have the courage to run against me - Blatter|
|Foster: Anichebe unplayable|
|Australia v UAE: Japan´s absence a boon for Asian Cup hosts|
|Milan v Lazio: Injury-hit visitors aiming for back-to-back wins|
|Trezeguet confirms retirement|
|No ´major problems´ with Nicolas Frey´s head wound|
|Strootman injury not "serious" - Garcia|
|No Paraguay, USA for retiring Riquelme|
|Saint-Etienne did not try to play football - Blanc|
|Primeira Liga Review: Sporting move within one point of Porto|
|La Liga Review: Parejo downs Sevilla, Resino starts with a point|
|Serie A Review: Juve go seven points clear as Roma draw again|