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'
|Suarez glad to be back despite Clasico defeat|
|Primeira Liga Review: Porto thrash Arouca, Pacos continue unbeaten run|
|Eredivisie Review: Ajax avoid slip-up, Vitesse denied by late equaliser|
|Real heart pleases Ancelotti|
|Ligue 1 Review: Sagnol hurting after PSG loss as Nantes extend unbeaten run|
|Luis Enrique acknowledges Real´s Clasico supremacy|
|Ramos delight as Real romp past Barca|
|Red card motivated PSG - Blanc|
|Leicester below par - Pearson|
|Bundesliga Review: Dortmund woes continue, Stuttgart edge thriller|
|Pique puzzled by penalty call|
|Indian Super League Preview: Lopez ban presents test for Atletico|
|Monk pleased to end winless run|
|Klopp vows to fight through rotten run|
|League Two Review: Murray beaten in Hartlepool bow, Luton go top|
|Swansea City 2 Leicester City 0: Bony brace seals important win|
|Warnock fumes at Dawson ´assault´|
|Hughes unhappy with first-half display|
|League One Review: Garner inspires Preston, Peterborough slip up|
|Real Madrid 3 Barcelona 1: Suarez denied in pulsating Clasico|
|Irvine thrilled with Anichebe impact|
|Bruce happy for Jakupovic|
|Milanic departs Leeds|
|Koeman pleased with ´difficult´ win|
|Rodgers content with Balotelli performance|
|Championship Review: Magic eight for Bournemouth, Wolves on the climb|
|Poyet left to rue more mistakes|
|PSG 3 Bordeaux 0: Lucas double helps champions close on Marseille|
|Wenger salutes ´focused´ Arsenal|
|Scottish Premiership Review: Hamilton beaten at Dundee, Inverness close gap|
|Indian Super League Review: Chennaiyin drubbed by Dynamos|
|Sunderland 0 Arsenal 2: Sanchez double the difference|
|West Brom 2 Crystal Palace 2: Berahino´s last-gasp penalty saves hosts|
|Liverpool 0 Hull City 0: Rodgers´ men frustrated in goalless draw|
|Southampton 1 Stoke City 0: Mane puts Saints second|
|Allardyce hopeful on Sakho injury|
|Borussia Dortmund 0 Hannover 1: Kiyotake increases pressure on Klopp|
|We did not deserve to lose - Pellegrini|
|Bremen dismiss Dutt after poor start|
|West Ham 2 Manchester City 1: Amalfitano and Sakho give hosts deserved win|
|QPR v Aston Villa: Redknapp wants Loftus Road to roar|
|Inzaghi warns against Milan complacency|
|Benitez shrugs off criticism|
|Pires, Lopez punished after spat|
|Mazzarri shrugs off sack rumours|
|Dyche not underestimating Everton|
|Melbourne Victory 5 Melbourne City 2: Berisha treble inspires derby win|
|Allegri hits back at Juve critics|
|Western Sydney Wanderers 1 Al Hilal 0: Juric earns slender lead|
|Redknapp denies Taarabt´s training accusations|
|United are in a fantastic position - Mourinho|
|Allardyce hails ´loyal´ West Ham owners|
|Scrap AFCON to stop Ebola - Song|
|Dutt: Werder deserved to lose|
|Wenger laments lack of confidence|
|Pardew urges Newcastle to ´challenge´ Champions League hopefuls|
|Chicago Fire 2 Houston Dynamo 1: Hosts give Pause fitting farewell|
|Falcao better at United - Filipe Luis|
|Blanc: I told you so|
|Crystal Palace to be sold - reports|
|Van Gaal backs ´unlucky´ Van Persie|
|Vitoria Setubal 0 Vitoria Guimaraes 1: Afonso´s goal enough|
|Delph sidelined for 2014|
|Carrick: I want to give Van Gaal selection headache|
|Aberdeen 1 Motherwell 0: Hayes strike enough to sink lowly visitors|
|Fulham 3 Charlton Athletic 0: Parker and Rodallega move Fulham out of drop zone|
|Celta Vigo 3 Levante 0: Alcaraz defeated in first game in charge|
|Toulouse 0 Lens 2: Visitors escape drop zone|
|Werder Bremen 0 Cologne 1: Ujah adds to bottom club´s woes|
|ADO Den Haag 2 Dordrecht 0: Kramer on target again|
|Possession key for Luis Enrique|
|FA charge Gillingham with ´race victimisation´|
|Poyet issues Sunderland rallying cry|
|Ancelotti ready to spring Clasico surprise|
|Suarez receiving help for biting ´impulse´|
|Tottenham v Newcastle United: Confident visitors look for White Hart Lane repeat|
|Manchester United v Chelsea: Van Gaal expecting Costa to play|
|Guardiola: Upcoming run crucial|
|UEFA investigate Daugavpils over match-fixing after arrests|
|Pires ´hit in face´ by opposition coach - Zico|
|Di Maria declared fit for Chelsea test|
|Burnley v Everton: Dyche relying on mental toughness|
|Milan v Fiorentina: Poli awaits crucial test|
|Serbia to appeal UEFA decision|
|Cesena v Inter: Milan club out to end tumultuous week|
|Bayern mauling changes nothing, says Garcia|
|Getafe v Atletico Madrid: Griezmann hopes to kick on|
|Cisse a doubt for Tottenham clash|
|Ferdinand plans to retire at end of season|
|Martinez pleased with stronger defensive displays|
|League One Preview: Crewe out to exit bottom four|
|Aguero not yet at his best, warns Pellegrini|
|AS Vita v ES Setif: Ibenge´s men seek to end 41-year wait|
|Juventus v Palermo: Buffon expecting response|
|League Two Preview: Life under Murray begins for Hartlepool|
|Villa have Cleverley option - Lambert|
|Costa has a ´little chance´ for United clash, says Mourinho|
|Brisbane Roar 0 Sydney 2: Janko scores wonder goal|
|Borussia Monchengladbach v Bayern Munich: Benatia calls for focus|
|Busquets available for El Clasico|
|Jones calls on United to attack|
|Coutinho vows to improve|
|Suarez not a factor - Ancelotti|
|Bruce wary of Balotelli backlash|
|Pogba extends Juve deal|
|Serbia awarded Albania walkover but deducted three points|
|Walcott to make comeback against Burnley|
|Robben lauds ´perfect´ life at Bayern|
|Vieira: Chelsea can better Arsenal´s ´Invincibles´ mark|
|No fracture for Bender - Klopp|
|Pepe a doubt for El Clasico|
|Allardyce: Carroll two or three weeks from return|
|Defoe unsure of future|
|CONCACAF Champions League Review: Saprissa overhaul Kansas City|
|Liga del Futbol Profesional Boliviano Review: Comeback win sends Oriente Petrolero second|
|Deportivo Capiata 0 Boca Juniors 1 (agg 1-1, 4-3 on penalties): Argentines reach quarters|
|Herediano 5 Perez Zeledon 1: Hosts cruise to victory|
|Liga MX Preview: Queretaro desperate to keep play-off hopes alive|
|First-half profligacy could have cost us - Favre|
|Lille will beat Everton next time - Enyeama|
|Montella pleased with Fiorentina response|
|Benitez blames lack of ´desire´|
|Dunga plays down captaincy controversy|