From Douglas Costa to Aytac Sulu: the stars are coming out to play on Matchday 30 in the Bundesliga.
Mexican spice, all things nice
bundesliga.com previews another guaranteed weekend of edge-of-your-seat action in Germany's top flight.
Mexican eyes will be glued to the screen when Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez's Bayer 04 Leverkusen take on Marco Fabian's Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday afternoon. Chicharito has been a revelation since joining the Bundesliga last summer and an inspiration to his childhood friend, Fabian. Both are seasoned Mexico internationals, but whilst Hernandez is busy fuelling Leverkusen's top-four ambitions, Fabian has a real fight on his hands to keep the relegation-threatened Eagles above water. Suffice to say this one will be right up there on the Scoville scale.
The Neuer factor
FC Bayern München's clash with FC Schalke 04 is also set to be a fiery affair, albeit for an altogether different reason. Manuel Neuer was schooled in the royal-blue way, before fleeing the nest in 2011 for Bayern - much to the Schalke fans' chagrin. The Germany number one has taken his game to new heights in the Bavarian capital and now stands on the brink of a record fourth successive Bundesliga crown, but top-four chasing Schalke are in good hands with in-form Ralf Fährmann between the posts.
Costa cruising to glory
With Bayern creeping closer to another piece of history and still chasing honours in the UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup, Brazil international winger Costa could scarcely have wished for a more productive debut campaign in the Bundesliga. The 25-year-old has excelled from the get-go in Munich, electrifying spectators with his innate sense of Samba skill, jet-heeled turn of pace and pin-point precision from the flanks. He has been one of Bayern's most consistent performers and has to be a leading candidate for Player of the Season.
In terms of influence, FC Ingolstadt 04 goalkeeper Ramazan Özcan and SV Darmstadt 98 captain Sulu are right up there with Bayern's magnificent Costa. Both were unknown quantities at the start of the campaign, but both are now household names after providing the foundations for their respective outfits' tilt at Bundesliga survival. Victory for Ingolstadt at the Merck-Stadion am Böllenfalltor this weekend would secure Die Schanzer's top-flight status for another season, while a Darmstadt win would represent another huge step on the road to a second straight campaign of Bundesliga football for the Lilies.
Holding out for a hero
Whatever the outcome, the relegation battle is unlikely to be decided for a few weeks yet. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have form on their side as they prepare to host third-in-the-table Hertha Berlin, while FC Augsburg take on VfB Stuttgart, buoyed by last weekend's win over a SV Werder Bremen side that could finish the weekend in the bottom two depending on how they fare against VfL Wolfsburg. The Green-Whites are a different animal with Claudio Pizarro on the pitch, but the Bundesliga's all-time leading foreign goalscorer remains a doubt through injury.