The race for the Bundesliga's coveted European places is hotting up on Matchday 23.
bundesliga.com previews the best of the action in and around the Bundesliga summit...
Bayern's title charge
Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern München have the opportunity to open up an 11-point lead on second-placed Borussia Dortmund when they travel to VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday. Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski netted an unprecedented five goals as a second-half substitute in the reverse fixture, and the Pole - along with prolific strike partner Thomas Müller - has not stopped scoring since. Indeed, with 22 and 17 goals apiece in the Bundesliga this season respectively, the Lewy-Müller axis have found the net more often than the entire Wolfsburg team put together (32).
bundesliga.com will have live text coverage of Bayern's trip to Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Wolves with ground to make up
A Wolfsburg victory, however – aside from making things very interesting between the top two – would blow the race for the European places wide open. The Wolves start the weekend down in eighth, but could climb as high as sixth with a win on Saturday. Defeat, meanwhile, could see them finish the weekend as many as seven points adrift of the top four and six outside the two UEFA Europa League spots. If Dieter Hecking’s men do go down to Bayern, away wins for the likes of Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Sunday afternoon could make for a potentially costly combination.
Hoffenheim chase Dortmund upset
Dortmund also share the stage on Sunday afternoon, with Thomas Tuchel’s men hosting improving TSG 1899 Hoffenheim. The fixtures have been piling up for BVB of late, but they remain firmly in contention for honours in the Bundesliga, Europa League and DFB Cup. Hoffenheim, on the other hand, only have one objective for the remainder of the campaign: to avoid relegation. With 28-year-old Julian Nagelsmann at the helm, the Sinsheim club have picked up four points from their last two matches and could move out of the relegation zone for the first time since early October by pulling off the mother of all upsets at the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK.
Mainz braced for Hernandez backlash
BVB might not be feeling so confident had returning Leverkusen striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez taken his chance to level with the last meaningful kick of the game at the BayArena last time out. The Mexico international’s uncharacteristic miss gave Dortmund their fourth Bundesliga win from five in 2016 as Bayer 04 fell to their first defeat since Matchday 15. They will have the opportunity to make up for that mishap against 1. FSV Mainz 05 who, after losing 3-2 to Hoffenheim, have a point of their own to prove in their quest for European football.
Sunday night lights
Last but by no means least, FC Schalke 04 bring the curtain down on Matchday 23 at the rather unusual time of 19:30CET/18:30GMT. The Royal Blues are only two points behind third-in-the-table Hertha Berlin, but head to Eintracht Frankfurt's Commerzbank Arena without a win in two following defeat to Mainz and last weekend’s 1-1 draw with VfB Stuttgart. Eintracht’s winless spell stretches back four matches – a run of form that has seen Armin Veh’s Eagles drop to within four points of the automatic relegation places.