- Lahm, Alonso and Neuer set for career milestones.
- Second meets third as Leipzg travel to Dortmund.
- Bojan Krkic in line to make Bundesliga debut.
Topping a weekend punctuated by high drama and goals by the bucket-load is no easy task, but Bundesliga Matchday 19 promises to rise to the challenge.
Bayern's milestone men
FC Bayern München's meeting with FC Schalke 04 at the Allianz Arena on Saturday afternoon will be a doubly special occasion for some of the record German champions' old guard. Long-time servant and captain, Philipp Lahm, is set to make his 500th appearance in all competitions for his boyhood club and veteran midfielder Xabi Alonso - halfway through his third season on the Bayern books - his 100th. As for shot-stopper supreme Manuel Neuer, a 100th Bundesliga clean sheet in Bayern colours beckons - if he can shut out former flame Schalke.
Watch: Five things to know about Manuel Neuer:
Clash of the titans
A fixture of equal interest and potentially even greater significance in the context of the title race sees second-placed RB Leipzig travel to Borussia Dortmund's SIGNAL IDUNA PARK for the very first time in their Bundesliga history. The Bundesliga greenhorns have proved beyond all doubt that their 1-0 triumph at home to BVB back on Matchday 2 was no fluke, and make the trip to Dortmund with a sizable 11-point cushion over Thomas Tuchel's third-in-the-table charges to protect. If Dortmund stumble again, Leipzig - currently three points behind Bayern - will be the side firmly in pole position to dethrone the champions.
Watch: Five things on Dortmund vs. Leipzig:
Hoffenheim start over
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim discovered first-hand how uncompromising Leipzig can really be on Matchday 18. Julian Nagelsmann's side fell to their first Bundesliga defeat of the season at the Red Bull Arena, their numerical disadvantage following Sandro Wagner's 60th-minute dismissal proving decisive. Leipzig didn't mope around after losing to Bayern on Matchday 16 - how will Hoffenheim respond to having their standing as the only unbeaten side in Europe's top five leagues snatched away from them? A home game against unpredictable 1. FSV Mainz 05 should provide all the answers.
Watch: Highlights of Hoffenheim's 2-1 reverse at the hands of Leipzig:
Aubameyang feeling the heat?
Although Matchday 18 witnessed a glut of goals - including one from prolific youngster Timo Werner - only one of the current top three Torjägerkanone candidates hit the back of the net. That man was 1. FC Köln's Anthony Modeste, who stuck away his 14th Bundesliga goal of the campaign in a 6-1 rout of SV Darmstadt 98 to move level in the scoring charts with Bayern's Robert Lewandowski. Dortmund's 16-goal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still tops the pile - as he has since Matchday 13 - but the Gabon star has not scored in his last two; his longest spell without a Bundesliga goal this season.
Watch: The results of our 2016/17 Team of the Hinrunde poll:
Welcome to the stage...
As well as the established Bundesliga names, there are handful of new faces to keep an eye out for this weekend. Two-time UEFA Champions League winner Bojan Krkic will almost certainly make his Bundesliga debut after joining Mainz on loan until the end of the season from Stoke City FC, while Jamaica's Leon Bailey and Brazil's Walace are expected to make the respective matchday squads of Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Hamburger SV on Friday night. Köln's meeting with VfL Wolfsburg, meanwhile, could see Neven Subotic - having swapped Dortmund for the Billy Goats - and Ashkan Dejagah - a Bundesliga winner with the Wolves in 2008/09 - renew acquaintances.
Watch: Bojan Krkic on why he joined the star-studded Bundesliga ranks: