Dortmund - Faltering champions Borussia Dortmund can limit FC Bayern Munich to a still-healthy twelve-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga with victory at 1899 Hoffenheim on Sunday (kick-off 15:30 CET).
"Score to settle"
The Yellow-Blacks are in danger of making it four successive games without a win for the first time since September 2009, a season in which Jürgen Klopp's side finished 13 points adrift of eventual winners Bayern in fifth, but the will take heart from the Bavarians' slip-up against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday night.
"We want to round off 2012 in the best possible way," declared Klopp having already overseen as many Bundesliga defeats this season as he did during the whole of 2011/12 (three). Indeed, should Dortmund lose on Sunday, a pre-winter break points tally of 27 would represent their lowest since Klopp took charge in 2008.
"I really think we have a bit of a score to settle against Hoffenheim," continued the BVB boss, whose side have won just one of their last four trips to Sinsheim. A concerning trend, even if Dortmund are facing Hoffenheim team winless since Matchday 10 - a run of results Klopp sees more as "a blip" rather than anything terminal.
"We will win"
Still, 1899 captain Sejad Salihovic could only emphasise how much a home victory would boost the dressing room heading into the winter break: "A victory would be really important for us all - the club, the fans and of course our confidence ahead of the second half of the campaign. I think that we will win 3-0," he told Bild newspaper after seeing the champions surrender a 1-0 at home to VfL Wolfsburg last time out.
Of course, that's not how the visiting camp see events unfolding on Sunday. "It's nice that they're so optimistic," said Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc. "We have a slightly different view and a different goal. We want to go into the winter break with a win," he continued, very much in harmony with the pre-match words of his head coach.
"If possible, we need to try not to concede any goals and make sure we score. It would definitely have a positive effect if we scored first," explained Salihovic. However, actually keeping a clean sheet might be easier said than done for a Hoffenheim outfit boasting the most pourous defence in the Bundesliga, with 38 goals conceded already this season.
After losing their first game under the tutelage of interim coach Frank Kramer last weekend, Hoffenheim now have seven points to make up on 15th-placed Wolfsburg, but at least go into Sunday's clash with a clean bill of health on the personnel front. Dortmund, meanwhile, can again call on Marcel Schmelzer, whose straight red card picked up in the defeat to Wolfsburg was rescinded.
Hoffenheim: Casteels - Beck, Delpierre, Compper, Johnson - Williams, Rudy, Salihovic - Roberto Firmino, Derdiyok, Volland
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Subotic, Hummels, Schmelzer - Gündogan, Leitner - Blaszczykowski, M. Götze, Reus - Lewandowski