Munich - Mainz 05 travel to Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday for a derby which they have yet to win away from home, while Hannover aim to get back to winning ways against Greuther Fürth (kick-off 20:00 CET).
Eintracht Frankfurt - 1. FSV Mainz 05
Few would have predicted promoted Eintracht Frankfurt would be considered pre-match favourites for the Rhine-Main Derby against Mainz 05 before the season started, yet a seven-point gap between the two clubs tells you all you need to know about the Eagles' remarkable Bundesliga return.
Little over 20 miles divides the cities of Frankfurt and Mainz, and while Eintracht had been the region's leading club for decades, unbeaten against Tuesday's opposition in eight competitive home encounters, powers seemed to shift in 2011 when Tuesday's hosts were relegated to the Bundesliga 2, while Mainz sensationally qualified for Europe only a year after gaining promotion to the top flight.
Despite Frankfurt showing little sign of falling away at the top, thanks to an expansive attacking style that has resulted in an impressive 26 goals, of which Alexander Meier and Stefan Aigner have 14, coach Armin Veh expects an even game: "We'll be playing very well-organised opposition who've been having a good season."
Frankfurt and Mainz both proved in their last outings that, on a good day, they have what it takes to compete with the very best the Bundesliga has to offer. The Eagles earned a draw at FC Schalke 04 on Saturday, while the 05ers were rather unfortunate not to take a share of the spoils against champions Borussia Dortmund. "We've got to use the derby to gain revenge for an unnecessary defeat to the champions," said Mainz' Colombian midfielder Elkin Soto.
Hannover 96 - Greuther Fürth
Hannover 96 will be hoping to bounce back from defeats in their last two matches when they host Greuther Fürth in what will be the two clubs' first ever Bundesliga meeting. Consistency and dynamism have seen Mirko Slomka's men twice qualify for the UEFA Europa League in recent seasons, but last weekend's 5-0 loss to record champions FC Bayern Munich saw the Reds drop out of the top six for only the second time all year.
"We cannot afford to drop any more points," said Slomka, whose Hannover side have conceded the second-highest number of goals in the Bundesliga this season (25). "We have all got to defend better as a team," he added.
"Get at them"
With the likes Mame Diouf, Jan Schlaudraff, Artur Sobiech and Didier Ya Konan on board, scoring goals is unlikely to be a problem. So it stands to reason that an improved defence could be the key to the Reds returning to the top six before too long. "We have to keep compact and then the goals mostly come anyway given our quality," affirmed Slomka.
Fürth got a point out of a hotly-contested Bavarian derby with 1. FC Nuremberg last weekend and, not for the first time this season, many felt that the promoted club could have achieved more. "We have shown often enough that we can be competitive," said coach Mike Büskens, before casting an eye over Tuesday's opponents: "We are going to have to get at them right from the beginning."