Berlin (AFP) – Bayern Munich face familiar opposition in neighbours Augsburg on Saturday as the Bundesliga leaders take on their Bavarian rivals for the second time in four days.
Bayern beat Augsburg 3-1 on Wednesday in the second round of the German Cup as US international Julian Green — deputising for striker Robert Lewandowski — David Alaba and Philipp Lahm all scored.
Carlo Ancelotti rested a host of stars including Arturo Vidal, Arjen Robben, Xabi Alonso and Lewandowski ahead of this weekend’s league game at Augsburg’s WWK-Arena stadium.
The Munich giants need a win in their warm-up for next Tuesday’s Champions League clash at PSV Eindhoven to ensure they remain clear at the summit.
The top clash of the weekend is Saturday’s Ruhr Valley derby between Borussia Dortmund and arch-rivals Schalke 04.
Dortmund are unbeaten in their last three league meetings against Schalke but are struggling with a lengthy injury list and are winless in their last three Bundesliga games.
Andre Schuerrle, Raphael Guerrerio, Marcel Schmelzer, Sven Bender, Erik Durm, Neven Subotic and Marco Reus are all either out injured or returning from injury.
Dortmund hope to have striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang back from a calf knock after he missed Wednesday’s nervy German Cup penalty shootout win over Union Berlin.
Schalke made a disastrous start to the season when they lost their first five games, but Markus Weinzierl’s side have steadied the ship by picking up seven points in the three matches since.
Midfielder Nabil Bentaleb, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, has been a revelation during the revival with three goals in his last two games.
Schalke are eager to make his move permanent, but director of sport Christian Heidel says Spurs want at least 20 million euros ($21.8 million) for the Algeria international.
“It was a double-digit sum and there was a two at the front,” Heidel said.
Bentaleb is relishing his first Ruhr derby and likened it to a match against Spurs’ north London rivals Arsenal.
“I don’t know if you can compare it to a London derby, but I’m looking forward to it,” said the 21-year-old.
– Record draws closer –
Unbeaten RB Leipzig, who trail Bayern by just two points, can take a step closer to a record when they face Darmstadt away.
Under Austrian coach Ralph Hasenhuettl, Leipzig have won five of their first eight games with three draws.
They are just two short of the record of 10 matches unbeaten, set by MSV Duisburg in 1993/94, for a side at the start of their first season in Germany’s top flight.
Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen meet on Saturday with both coaches in desperate need of a victory.
Leverkusen’s Roger Schmidt serves the last of his two-match touchline ban for verbally abusing Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann in last Saturday’s 3-0 defeat.
Leverkusen, who go to Tottenham in the Champions League on Wednesday, are winless in their last four games and suffered a shock German Cup defeat to third division Sportfreunde Lotte in midweek.
Wolfsburg are without a win in seven league games and caretaker coach Valerien Ismael, who lost his first game 3-1 at strugglers Darmstadt, has been tasked with reversing the team’s fortunes.
Bottom club Hamburg, who are still winless after their first eight league games, are at Cologne on Sunday.
Unbeaten Hoffenheim host fellow high-flyers Hertha Berlin in south-west Germany, with Pal Dardai’s side suffering their lone defeat to Bayern and starting to look like realistic contenders for a Champions League place next season.
Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)
Borussia Moenchengladbach v Eintracht Frankfurt (1830)
Mainz v Ingolstadt, VfL Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen, Augsburg v Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen v Freiburg, Darmstadt v RB Leipzig, Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04 (1630)
Hoffenheim v Hertha Berlin (1430), Cologne v Hamburg (1630)
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