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Top Game I
FC Bayern München against FC Schalke 04 is an old-time Bundesliga classic and when they go head-to-head for the 88th time in Germany's national top flight this weekend, the hosts will be chasing a 45th victory all-told over their Royal Blue Ruhr district rivals. It would also be the seventh on the trot, with Bayern having accumulated a goal difference of 18:1 in the process, since Schalke last got the better of them in a 2-0 win on home turf in December 2010.
Jens Keller's troops have been in fine fettle since the action got back underway after the winter break but not quite as fine as the Munich Reds, who have added a further five wins to their ongoing record streak and are chasing a 21st maximum haul in 23 outings this season - another staging post best-mark, it need hardly be added.
Top Game II
Heading north to take on a Hamburg side they had beaten 6-2 earlier in the season and who had lost their seven most recent Bundesliga outings, a re-energised Borussia Dortmund were certainly not anticipating a 3-0 defeat. That was what they ended up with, however, and as a result Schalke and Wolfsburg are now both hot on their heels in the race for a coveted top-three place. Jürgen Klopp's men know it is imperative to get back on track at the first opportunity, and that presents itself in the form of a home game against 1. FC Nürnberg.
The visitors however are rapidly emerging as one of the surprise packages of 2014 and making up in double-quick time for their unwanted new Bundesliga record as the first team ever to go an entire winter break without winning a single game. Der Club have come out on top in four of their five games since the restart, most recently edging past Braunschweig in an encounter that set another little slice of top-flight history, as the first match to feature three unconverted penalties. And if head coach Gertjan Verbeek was “having difficulty being elated“ about his team's overall performance in that one, a repeat of the result at Dortmund would doubtless properly brighten his spirits.
All things being equal, the weekend's big game will also pit Jerome and Kevin-Prince Boateng up against each other in a high-level fraternal duel new to the Bundesliga this season. The brothers grew up in very contrasting circumstances in Berlin and both started out on their respective professional paths with Hertha. Jerome landed at FC Bayern, by way of Hamburg and Manchester City, in 2011 and has since established himself as a back-row regular in the German national team as well as at the heart of domestic, European and world champions' defence.
Kevin-Prince returned to the Bundesliga via spells with Tottenham Hotspur FC and Portsmouth FC in England, a half-season on loan at Dortmund and three defining years with AC Milan. His surprise move to FC Schalke at the end of August has had a revitalising effect on the team and also cast the one-time putative problem case in a quite different light - as a world-class box-to-box midfielder and genuine on-field leader. The reunion with his brother at the Allianz Arena will test those faculties to the full.