Coming up this week in GOAL! we have potential thrillers involving the top two, features on a couple of the league's most gifted performers, one still young, one less so, a pressing appointment with a true basketball great who also loves his football and plenty more besides - don't miss it!
Top Game I
A thoroughly merited 3-1 victory at Schalke in the ever-fiery Ruhr district derby served to keep Borussia Dortmund hard on the heels of FC Bayern at the top of the standings and Jürgen Klopp's men face no less stiff a challenge in Friday's Matchday 11 opener when VfB Stuttgart come calling. On the face of it, BVB should be the odds-on favourites in a home game against mid-table opponents twelve points adrift of them already. Stuttgart however arrive on a seven-game unbeaten streak in the Bundesliga, where new head coach Thomas Schneider has yet to taste defeat. That said, they have had to be content with a share of the spoils in each of their last three outings, two of them at home. On the other hand, a draw is also what VfB have taken away from each of their four most recent trips to the Signal Iduna Park. Last season it was 0-0, while the one before produced an an eight-goal roller-coaster of an all-time Bundesliga classic. What chance a repeat performance this year?
These have been a very productive few days for Mario Götze. After a game-turning performance off the bench against Mainz and an added-time strike in the Champions League demolition of Viktoria Plzen, the summer signing from Borussia Dortmund capped off the week with a rare headed goal to help FC Bayern to a 3-2 victory over Hertha Berlin. With all three matches played at the Allianz Arena, fans of the record champions were finally getting a proper look at their new star, widely considered to be the most gifted of a golden generation of young German talents. After a frustrating few months blighted by successive injury problems, the first of which predated his move to Munich, Götze is certainly making up for lost time now - and thoroughly revelling in his football again.
3 Minutes with...
...Diego. In a jam-packed mid-table, two successive wins have been enough to lift VfL Wolfsburg from fourteenth place into sixth, a position more in line with their pre-season ambitions. The Wolves are far from short of big-name star quality but if there is one player pivotal to coach Dieter Hecking's strategy, it is surely his Brazilian No10. Diego's time at Wolfsburg since joining them from Juventus in 2010 has undoubtedly had its fair share of ups and downs - indeed, he spent the whole of 2011/12 on loan at Atletico Madrid. This season, however, he has not missed a minute of onfield action so far in the league and is once again allying consistency and leadership quality with his unquestioned talent on the ball and aptitude for carving open an opposition defence.