The German Bundesliga returns this weekend with a cracker on Friday night, when defending champions and log leaders, Bayern Munich, travel to third-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach.
The Bavarians are 41-games unbeaten and last lost a Bundesliga game in October 2012, but their opponents only dropped two points at home so far this season.
“We are going to have to have the courage to given them a run for the money,” said Gladbach coach, Lucien Favre.
“We will have to move a lot and increase the tempo at the right times.”
Gladbach wants to be the first team to beat the Bavarian giants this season and the odds are not as bad as one might think. Even Bayern coach, Pep Guardiola, was surprised to learn that Bayern only won three out of the last 23 direct duels.
Franck Ribery has a slight injury concern and for Bastian Schweinsteiger the game comes too early. Arjen Robben only started to train with the team on Wednesday, but will take the trip to Gladbach.
Bayern’s last test match ended 0-3 against Salzburg after Guardiola tried a new system with only three at the back, but indicated that he won’t use the system again.
Gladbach are unbeaten in their last eight games and will be hoping to continue their impressive run from before the winter break, whilst Bayern are keen to make an early statement that this season they are playing in a league on their own.
Bayern’s two closest rivals, will both try to stop their latest downwards trends, but both have comparably easy tasks. Second-placed Leverkusen travel to bottom-half Freiburg, and will be hoping to win their first game after two consecutive losses.
Fourth-placed Dortmund, meanwhile, welcome Augsburg at home and are looking for their first home victory after three successive Bundesliga home defeats.
“The boys have been training extensively, the freshness is back, the strength is there and one could even see a certain ease and lightness, which we missed before the break,” said Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp before the match.
Dortmund will still miss Mats Hummels and Ilkay Gundogan, for who this week’s match comes too early despite their recovery being on track.