Top-five duo Eintracht Frankfurt and Hannover 96 go toe-to-toe in Hessen, Bayer 04 Leverkusen's European football-chasing credentials go under the microscope at home to improving 1. FSV Mainz 05 and VfL Wolfsburg have a point to prove with the visit of SC Freiburg.
Eintracht Frankfurt - Hannover 96
Armin Veh's Eagles return to domestic action following a maiden Bundesliga defeat of the season, away at Mönchengladbach last time out, but the coach is determined not to let an "unnecessary" loss derail their gung-ho start to the campaign. "This defeat will not knock us down because we showed once again that we can play well with our style," he said.
Words of warning of sorts, then, for Hannover 96, who currently trail second-placed Eintracht Frankfurt by five points and three positions. The Reds left it late against champions Borussia Dortmund, but their quest for European football remains on track, thanks to some dogged resilience on home soil. However, although victorious in their previous three meetings against Frankfurt, the Lower Saxony outfit have lost all but one of their last eight outings away from the AWD Arena.
Eintracht Frankfurt: Trapp - Jung, Anderson, Zambrano, Oczipka - Schwegler, Rode - Aigner, Meier, Inui - Occean
Hannover 96: Zieler - Cherundolo, Eggimann, Haggui, Rausch - Stindl, da Silva - Schlaudraff, Huszti - Sobiech, Ya Konan
Bayer 04 Leverkusen - 1. FSV Mainz 05
Sixth-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen will look to continue their steady climb up the Bundesliga ladder with victory over Mainz. In Stefan Kießling, who grabbed a brace in the 2-2 draw at VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 7, joint-coach Sami Hyypiä has at his disposal the calendar year's joint-leading scorer, but amazingly nearly six months have passed since the striker last found the net at the BayArena, which goes some way to explaining why die Werkself have scored just five goals in front of their own fans all season.
Chasing a fourth win in five, Mainz boss Thomas Tuchel has to contend with the possibility of an international hangover en masse for the trip to Leverkusen after no less than ten of his troops were involved for their countries during the Bundesliga hiatus. Adam Szalai, whose solitary effort ended Fortuna Düsseldorf’s unbeaten start to the campaign last time out, was away with Hungary, while first-choice trio Julian Baumgartlinger, Eugen Polanski and Andreas Ivanschitz were also in action in midweek.
Bayer Leverkusen: Leno - Carvajal, Wollscheid, Toprak, Kadlec - Castro, Reinartz, Rolfes - Bellarabi, Schürrle - Kießling
Mainz: Wetklo - Pospech, Noveski, Kirchhoff, Junior Diaz - Baumgartlinger - Polanski, Soto - Müller, Ivanschitz - Szalai
VfL Wolfsburg - SC Freiburg
These are desperate times for VfL Wolfsburg, with only Greuther Fürth sparing Felix Magath's side from sitting rock bottom in the Bundesliga. Goals are proving particularly hard to come by for the 2009 champions, but summer signing Bas Dost is determined to change all that despite having found playing time at a premium since his curtain-raising winner against Stuttgart. "I want to do everthing I can to get back amongst the goals," the Dutchman said.
Like Dost, Freiburg midfielder Johannes Flum has had to watch on from the sidelines of late, albeit for very different reasons. The 24-year-old has had to deal with various injuries, but he could return to the Breisgauer fold on Saturday, after Christian Streich's men ended a three-game winless streak with a resounding Matchday 7 success over 1. FC Nuremberg. Nevertheless, the coach admits he does not know what to expect from the inconsistent Wolves, labelling them "the toughest opponents to analyse."
VfL Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Fagner, Naldo, Pogatetz, Rodriguez - Josue - Knoche, Schäfer - Diego - Olic, Vieirinha
SC Freiburg: Baumann - Mujdza, Ginter, Diagne, Sorg - Schuster, Makiadi - Schmid, Caligiuri - Jendrisek, Freis
Christopher Mayer-Lodge and Ben Gladwell