Munich - All eyes will be on when Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern München entertain fourth-place Hertha Berlin on Saturday (kick-off 15:30 CET).
Götze 'an option'
Head coach Pep Guardiola will be hoping Götze's dazzling cameos off the bench against 1. FSV Mainz 05 and FC Viktoria Plzen are just the start for the former Borussia Dortmund man, who can expect to feature once again against the 2012/13 Bundesliga 2 champions.
"Mario is a special player," explained Guardiola. "He doesn't need much time or space to make the right decision, that's why he's here. It gets better by the day, in each training session. I'm happy for him. He's ready to play 90 minutes, but I don't know if he will. It's an option for me, which is great."
Götze's record since returning from a troublesome hamstring complaint speaks for itself: He was on target within eight minutes of his second-half introduction for Germany , before chipping in with an assist for good measure. The 21-year-old was the catalyst for Bayern's come-from-behind win over Mainz at the weekend, while in the UEFA Champions League he marked his belated arrival with his first competitive goal in a Bayern shirt.
'Happy with our performances'
"I'm feeling really good and I'm only going to get fitter," said Götze after Wednesday's emphatic 5-0 win over Czech champions Plzen. "I feel even happier to have scored and set up a goal - for the team, but of course from a personal point of view as well."
Götze's long-awaited return comes at a time when Bayern are seemingly hitting peak form, with Guardiola's men sitting top of the Bundesliga ahead of rivals Borussia Dortmund. "I'm really happy with our performances, but you mustn't forget that BVB have won [the league] twice in the last three years," said the 42-year-old. "BVB are one of the best sides in the world. We have to do a bit more if we want to win the Bundesliga again."
Back in the big time
Bayern will be looking to repeat past achievements against Berlin, after notching up an aggregate score of 10-0 when Hertha were last in the Bundesliga in 2011-12. "We've already applied to field two or three goalkeepers," joked Hertha defender Sebastian Langkamp. "We know what to expect in Munich. We can't play in a way that will allow Bayern to tear us apart."
Nonetheless, Guardiola has been swotting up on Saturday's visitors, noting that their "aggression" and "quick players" shouldn't be taken lightly. Combined, those two elements have helped catapult die Alte Dame from the depths of the second tier to the top four in the Bundesliga, leaving Bayern defender and former Hertha star Jerome Boateng in little doubt "the top flight is where they belong."
FC Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, van Buyten, J. Boateng, Alaba - Schweinsteiger - Robben, T. Kroos, T. Müller, Ribery - Mandzukic
Hertha Berlin: Kraft - Pekarik, Lustenberger, S. Langkamp, J. van den
Bergh - Hosogai, Cigerci - Allagui, Skjelbred, Ben-Hatira - Ramos
See how it all started for Bayern head coach Guardiola, courtesy of the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: