Dortmund - Borussia Dortmund will be looking to tighten their grip on second place with victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday (kick-off: 14:30 GMT/15:30 CET).
BVB have seen FC Bayern München all but wrap up the title, but appear to be winning the battle of the nearly rans, with Lucien Favre's off-colour Foals very much included in the clutch of sides vying for a place in next season's UEFA Champions League.
"I expect Gladbach to fight with all they have to get themselves out of this rut," explained Dortmund head coach Jürgen Klopp. "Since Lucien's been in charge, they've wanted to play football and dominate games. We have to deal with it. They've got some exceptional players, too, like Juan Arango, Max Kruse, Raffael and Patrick Herrmann."
The aforementioned quartet lit up the Bundesliga during the Hinrunde, but have had precious little to cheer in 2014, with Borussia travelling to the Signal Iduna Park without a win since Matchday 15's long-forgotten triumph at home to FC Schalke 04 and having amassed just five points from the 27 on offer since the winter break.
"Although we haven't won since Christmas, we've had more opportunities than our opponents in almost every game," recalled Gladbach boss Favre. "The difference is that we've not taken our chances and at the back we've given away too many goals." The Foals have found the net just eight times and shipped 14 goals in their last eight matches, with Saturday's opponents right at the other end of the spectrum, averaging almost three goals per game this calendar year.
"Everyone knows the Dortmund team," Favre continued, the ink not yet dry on his freshly-penned contract extension at the Rhineland club. "They're very dangerous and especially good at getting forward once they win the ball back. Of course we have to deny them space and defend well, but we still have to go forward, otherwise we'll play ourselves into trouble."
'Plenty of good options'
The 56-year-old coach got his tactics spot-on the last time the two Borussias met on Matchday 8, kicking the Schwarz-Gelben into touch with the help of two late goals from Kruse and Raffael. In truth, Dortmund were the masters of their own downfall after passing up copious scoring chances, before Mats Hummels was sent off ten minutes from time. "It was one of our best performances on the road," remembered Klopp. "We put so much into it, yet came away with nothing. Afterwards, I said the next one could be the game of the year."
To help his cause back on Dortmund soil, the BVB tactician could have leading scorer Robert Lewandowski available again after the Pole missed the 1-0 win over SC Freiburg through injury. Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan is suspended, while former Gladbach favourite Marco Reus is unlikely to be risked having just recovered from a torn thigh muscle. "Unless something extraordinary happens, Marco will miss out," Klopp confirmed. "We still have plenty of good options; one is Jonas Hofmann and another is Milos Jojic."
Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmelzer - Kehl, Sahin - Aubameyang, Hofmann, Großkreutz - Lewandowski
Gladbach: ter Stegen - Korb, Jantschke, Stranzl, Daems - Kramer, Xhaka - Herrmann, Arango - Raffael, Kruse
A hero to fans of Gladbach and a legend-in-the-making at BVB: check out Marco Reus' top five goals on the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: