Coming up on the Bundesliga Preview Show this week...
Wolfsburg are still hanging hard in Bayern's slipstream as the top two got back to winning ways at the weekend, while Schalke are now the best of the rest with Augsburg having squandered the opportunity to sensationally climb even higher. At the other end of the table, Dortmund passed on the cellar-dwelling duties to Stuttgart, with Hertha and Hamburg showing signs of perking up as well. This week, the Preview Show has a double dose of Andre Schürrle after his impressive debut for the Wolves and ahead of his reunion with Leverkusen. Dortmund's bid for another much-needed win at the expense of Jürgen Klopp's old flame is also in the spotlight, along with one star at the tail-end of his career and another still making his way to the top. In addition, there's an historical overview of a Bundesliga tussle about to go a ton-up, and we pay tribute to a legend of the German game and beyond.
When it comes to history, FC Bayern München and Hamburger SV have certainly shared plenty of it in the Bundesliga. In fact, Saturday's game at the Allianz Arena will be the 100th time these old rivals have locked horns in the top flight's classic south-north duel – only Hamburg and Werder Bremen have faced off more often. In recent years, it has rarely being anything approaching a battle of equals and Hamburg head for Munich clear underdogs this time as well, even on the back of a mini-renaissance encompassing successive league wins. There have been times, though, when this was also a meeting of German football's two undisputed superpowers of the day.
With both sides vying for a place in the UEFA Champions League, and preferably one of the direct ones accompanying a top-three finish, Bayer 04 Leverkusen against VfL Wolfsburg was always going to be one of the tastier Matchday 21 encounters. Lending it extra piquancy now, of course, is the fact that Wolfsburg have added Schürrle to their ranks – and his first Bundesliga away-day with them will thus be at his old BayArena stomping ground. The hosts will duly have noted their former employee's rip-roaring start in Wolf's clothing, not least the seemingly instantaneous understanding he was able to forge with Kevin De Bruyne. After slipping up at Bremen last time out, though, Bayer are more concerned about making their own high-pressing case for three points this weekend.
On 1 February, German football lost one of its truly undisputed legends when Udo Lattek passed away at the age of 80. Lattek led FC Bayern (6) and Borussia Mönchengladbach (2) to eight Bundesliga titles all-told in the 1970s and '80s, an unparalleled achievement. He also won the European Cup with Bayern in 1974 and UEFA Cup with Gladbach five years later, before incidentally rounding out a personal European 'treble' by guiding FC Barcelona to the Cup Winners' Cup. Above and beyond his onfield success, Lattek was a popular and admired figure throughout the footballing community, amiable and straight-talking in like measure. A tribute to a singular football character.