Coming up this week on GOAL!...
Top Game I
Any lingering doubts as to Bayer Leverkusen's staying power at the cutting edge of the Bundesliga were surely dispelled by the 1-0 victory at UEFA Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund. Heung Min Son's 18th-minute matchwinning strike took the Werkself six points clear of Jürgen Klopp's troops in second place and leaves them looking at the moment very much like FC Bayern's number one challengers in this season's title race. Next Sunday's visitors Eintracht Frankfurt, by contrast, are drifting into increasingly dire straits, on a winless run which hit double figures when they went down 2-1 at home to Hoffenheim. Having enjoyed such a tremendous post-promotion campaign in 2012-13, Armin Veh's Eagles now find themselves above the drop zone on goal difference alone. One crumb of comfort, under the present circumstances, is the fact that this one is being played out at the BayArena - given that Eintracht's two season wins to date both came on the road.
Top Game II
The superlatives are slowly running out when it comes to describing the latest chapter in the ongoing FC Bayern München success story. It's not so long since Werder Bremen were their most persistent challengers at the top end of the German game, but a 7-0 drubbing of the Green-Whites in their own back yard emphatically underscored the current gap in class between the sides on Matchday 15. It may also have reawakened painful and none-too-distant memories for Hamburger SV, who lost by the same seven-goal margin - 9-2, to be precise - on their last trip to the Allianz Arena at the end of March. Both teams have a new man at the helm in the interim, but while Pep Guardiola is fresh from setting a Bundesliga record for the best unbeaten start by a coach, his HSV counterpart Bert van Marwijk is still waiting for his charges to produce the consistency desired and required. A surprise 1-0 home loss to FC Augsburg last time out left the Red Shorts down in 13th place, with just one win from their last five outings. What chance an about-turn in fortunes in Munich?
Julian Draxler was born within sight, from an elevated vantage point, of the Veltins Arena, and progressed through the FC Schalke 04 youth ranks at a blistering rate of knots, taking his league bow against Hamburg in January 2011 at the age of 17 years and 117 days - the fourth-youngest player ever to do so in the Bundesliga. Precociousness is no guarantee of durability of course, but Draxler is here for the long haul without a doubt. The gifted and intuitive attacking midfielder has since become the first player in the German top flight to rack up 75 appearances before turning 20 and is already a fixture in the senior national squad. One of Europe's most coveted talents, he reaffirmed his commitment to Schalke late last season, extending his existing contract for a further two years, through to 2018.