We are down into single figures for the number of remaining Matchdays in the 2015/16 Bundesliga season, and that can only mean the first decisions are around the corner.
Let bundesliga.com explain how Matchday 26 could make a few situations a little bit clearer…
Kovac's confident return
Niko Kovac (r.) is no stranger to the Bundesliga, but fans will have to get used to seeing him on the touchline rather than on the field when he takes his coaching bow with Eintracht Frankfurt. The former Croatia coach has been drafted in by the strugglers, together with his brother Robert, following the dismissal of Armin Veh. He has nine games to give the Eagles flight away from the relegation zone, starting with Saturday's trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach. "I am a child of the Bundesliga and I am convinced that we can stay up, and that we will stay up," Kovac said on his presentation on Tuesday. "I'm delighted to have this chance. It's not an easy situation, but then what situation is?" Frankfurt head to Gladbach occupying the relegation play-off berth, with a three-point cushion over the automatic relegation zone.
Top four clash in the capital
Berlin has had its fair share of top-of-the-table encounters this season, and Friday night is no exception. Hertha play host to FC Schalke 04 in the latest in a line of fixtures between Pal Dardai's men and pretenders to their podium position at the Olympiastadion. It will be a true test of the Old Lady's credentials after recent setbacks, and one they hope to pass on a new pitch. "Now we've got some exciting games and if we win them, we will deserve to be up there. If not, then we won't," said the Hungarian coach. "We can have no excuses with the new pitch!" Schalke will be keen to try out the new baize too, with third place on offer to the winner.
Relegation issues in Darmstadt and Hanover
There are two key fixtures at the foot of the table this weekend with SV Darmstadt 98 hosting FC Augsburg and Hannover 96 entertaining 1. FC Köln. It is crunch time for all four sides with the hosts able not only to boost their own survival hopes, but to damage those of their opponents in the process. Darmstadt have slipped to just two points above the relegation play-off berth while Augsburg, with no more European distractions, are looking to pull away from the danger zone sooner rather than later. Hannover remain rooted to the foot of the table, but they will fancy their chances against the side with the second-worst record in the league in 2016.
The master and his apprentice meet
Thomas Tuchel and Martin Schmidt formed a winning team at 1. FSV Mainz 05 with the club qualifying for the UEFA Europa League twice under the former as head coach and the latter as his right-hand man. That progress has since continued with Schmidt slipping into Tuchel's shoes, and success again seems to be just around the corner for the unfancied club from Rhineland-Palatinate. This weekend, Tuchel will be glad to see how his former club is continuing to flourish, as the master welcoming his pupil, but no favours can be expected as Dortmund continue their chase of FC Bayern München at the top. Mainz, on the other hand, will just continue doing what they have made a reputation of in recent years: being a nuisance to the big clubs. "We just go to Dortmund as normal, without the thought that we have to do something spectacular," Schmidt said. "We just want to confirm our results from recent weeks."
Pizarro misses Munich return
Claudio Pizarro's absence from the SV Werder Bremen line-up at the Allianz Arena when Victor Skripnik's men step out to face FC Bayern on Saturday (kick-off 18:30CET/17:30GMT) is a major blow for the northerners and a huge boon for the hosts. With nine goals since the turn of the year, Pizarro has made a mockery of his 37 years and Bundesliga defences, and is the leading marksman of 2016. However, a muscle strain means his former team-mates will not have to attempt to stop him adding to that tally as Pep Guardiola's men seek to extend their lead at the top with second-placed Dortmund playing 24 hours later.