After Champions League highs, it's back to more mundane Bundesliga business for Bayern Munich as they seek to retain their lead at the top while league rivals clash.
Soccer ball with shield of the Bayern Munich team. / Reference image / Pixabay
DW | Barry Whelan
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Leer en español: Bayern Munich busca la magia de la Champions en la Bundesliga
Bayern Munich have to refocus following their Champions League gala night in London if they want to stay top of the Bundesliga ahead of the international break.
Only one point separates the top six in the league after six matches and coach Niko Kovac does not want to spoil the memories of their 7-2 win at Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday by slipping up at home to Hoffenheim on Saturday.
"It was a moment of glory for German football," Kovac said after the Champions League victory, "but we must turn our focus to the Bundesliga from tomorrow onwards. We have ambitious goals this season, we want to achieve a lot."
Bayern went top last weekend thanks to a 3-2 win at tailenders Paderborn while previous leaders RB Leipzig slipped to a 3-1 home defeat to Schalke.
While Bayern have 14 points, Leipzig are now second on goal difference on 13, level on points with Freiburg, Schalke, Borussia Moenchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen.
Bayern are up against opponents who are struggling, coach Alfred Schreuder's team coming off a 3-0 defeat to Gladbach and now four league games without a win.
The German champions, now 20 Bundesliga matches without defeat, have also never lost at home to Hoffenheim, and enjoy a record of nine wins and two draws.
Moreover leading goalgetter Robert Lewandowski is coming up against one of his favourite opponents. The Poland striker already has 10 goals in six matches - the first Bundesliga player to reach double digits at this stage of the season - and has put more goals (15) past Hoffenheim's Oliver Baumann than any other keeper.
However, Bayern were far from happy with their performance in Paderborn, and will be now hoping some of the Champions League magic will rub off in more mundane league action.
Two of Bayern's pursuers, Leverkusen and Leipzig, meet in one of Saturday's top matches, with both coming off of midweek Champions League defeats.
Leverkusen had no joy in a 3-0 loss at Juventus but will be hoping home strength will see them through against Leipzig, who slipped 2-0 at home to Lyon for a second straight home defeat after their loss to Schalke.
Leverkusen are unbeaten at home for the last six league games over two season - but it was Leipzig in April who inflicted the last defeat in their own stadium.
Third-placed surprise package Freiburg meanwhile greet Dortmund, who are now eighth after two successive draws , three points behind Bayern, but were boosted by a 2-0 Champions League win at Slavia Prague on Wednesday.
"We are very happy and relieved because we have not won for three games," sports director Michael Zorc said, also referring to a 0-0 Champions League draw against Barcelona. "Such a win is vital."
Freiburg have yet to play a team currently in the top half of the table so Dortmund will be a big test for coach Christian Streich's side.
Midfielder Amir Abrashi told the club's website: "Dortmund are under pressure and we don't have to fear anyone. Of course, it will be a very difficult game for us."
Schalke greet struggling Cologne while Gladbach are in action Sunday when Augsburg are the visitors.
Also Sunday Wolfsburg, two points adrift of Bayern, greet promoted Union Berlin, while Eintracht Frankfurt take on visiting Werder Bremen.
The weekend programme opens Friday evening with Hertha Berlin against Fortuna Dusseldorf, while Paderborn greet third-last Mainz in Saturday's remaining game.