Munich - Saturday afternoon of Matchday 5 guarantees passion, tumult and excitement. First wins are sought, international representatives are raring to get back to domestic duties and three points are essential for all sides involved.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen-VfL Wolfsburg
bundesliga.com previews the 15.30 CET kick-offs from around Germany's top flight.
The BayArena hasn't been a happy Bundesliga hunting ground for the Wolves - 16 times these two sides have squared up in Leverkusen, and Wolfsburg have never left with a win. That suits home team coach Sami Hyypiä, who intends to put the disappointment of the 2-0 loss in Gelsenkirchen behind him and maintain his side's good home record. "Against FC Schalke 04 we made lots of silly mistakes, but that's in the past, we'll be better on Saturday. We're going to give 100 percent to beat Wolfsburg" said the Finn.
There are doubts over the involvement of midfielders Gonzalo Castro and Lars Bender. Castro only returned to training on Wednesday, while Bender has a minor muscle tear. One midfielder Hyypiä will have available is Emre Can, who knows new Wolfsburg signing Luiz Gustavo from their time at FC Bayern München together, and warned his team-mates of the Brazilian's "quality".
Wolfsburg's cosmopolitan squad has had very little time together due to international commitments, and coach Dieter Hecking has reiterated that the players are "really keen to end this winless run in Leverkusen", however he did not deny that the game presented a "huge challenge".
One such challenge involved in trying to overcome Leverkusen is that his side have not won an away game all season, but Hecking said this did not concern him and his aim was "not to slow down, but to build on the momentum after beating Hertha Berlin and play as aggressively as possible to impose our style on the match." Ivan Perisic, Ja-Cheol Koo, Luiz Gustavo and Vieirinha are likely to start, but returning late from international duty in various corners of the world has affected their preparation for this key Matchday 5 clash.
Robin Dutt's team have waited four weeks for Bundesliga action to return to the Weserstadion, and with it the Grün-Weiß faithful are expecting to bring an end to a six-game winless streak against Frankfurt. After two wins and two losses this season, a clear response to the murmurs of an identity crisis would also be more than welcome by the River Weser.
Dutt says he is "optimistic and confident" his side can "beat any opposition" on home turf, while the 48-year-old could hand a home debut to Argentinian left-back Santiago Garcia, who was signed on deadline day. Meanwhile, Felix Kroos is expected to replace the injured Zlatko Junuzovic in the Northeners' midfield.
Eagles take off
Despite Dutt's confidence, Frankfurt could hardly have asked for a better opponent as they seek their second win of the season. Against no other side have Eintracht picked up more wins than the 30 taken off Werder. Indeed, these encounters have also always been exciting - none of their 54 meetings have ever ended goalless.
Veh has headaches in midfield though with captain Pirmin Schwegler out for up to three months with an injured left knee, while no prediction can be given as to whether Johannes Flum will be fit.
Coach Markus Weinzierl is approaching his side's home clash with SC Freiburg positively, considering they have won their last two games. Victory would also hoist the Bavarians into the top half of the table, a position which would have been inconceivable this time last year.
Weinzierl also has options aplenty: Bundesliga-experienced striker Raul Bobadilla is fit again, and new South Korea centre-half Jeong-Ho Hong has now trained with his new colleagues following his return from international duty on Thursday. Midfield schemer Raphael Holzhauser also left the Austria U-21s early, and has therefore had the benefit of a full-week of training.
Streich's first season success
Freiburg coach Christian Streich is aware of what it will take to beat a rejuvenated Augsburg. "We must play with all our passion and strength to beat such robust opponents" said the eccentric 48-year-old. Last time out, Freiburg drew with reigning champions Bayern, but this week they have the added complication of a UEFA Europa League tie against Slovenia's FC Slovan Liberec on Thursday to contend with.
Streich and his side have "been training so hard and working on so many different things" that there has been no time to focus on Thursday. "Augsburg are my priortity," Streich said. The return to fitness of striker Mike Hanke will boost the men travelling from the Black Forest, but the international break has taken its toll on Mensur Mujdza (knee problem) and new signing Vladimir Darida (injured ankle).