Bundesliga weekend preview
With Bayern Munich edging towards a second straight Bundesliga title, the focus in German football has shifted to becoming the best of the rest.
Bayern opened up a 13-point gap at the top of the table with a dramatic turnaround victory at Stuttgart, emphasising, if it were at all necessary, that they are in a league of their own once again this season.
With few now doubting that Pep Guardiola will crown his first season in charge of the club with at least the Bundesliga title, the battle to join Bayern in the Champions League next season is still wide open.
Last weekend, not one of the top six sides won, allowing Schalke to burst in among them with a 3-0 win at Hamburg.
They host sixth-placed Wolfsburg on Saturday, able to consolidate their place in the top five and even break into the top three with a win.
Dortmund can prevent their local rivals from getting any closer than they currently are, at two points adrift, by starting the weekend off with a win over bottom-placed Eintracht Braunschweig on Friday night.
As they showed against Augsburg last weekend, though, nothing can be taken for granted.
Indeed, last weekend, three of the league's bottom four sides picked up maximum points with Hamburg the biggest losers, dropping into the bottom three and facing up to a third straight season of relegation worries rather than European dreams.
"If we continue to play like this, we'll go down," said captain Rafael van der Vaart ahead of their trip to fellow strugglers Hoffenheim on Saturday.
Nurnberg and Freiburg are also in the thick of the danger and they will be keen to follow up wins over Hoffenheim and Bayer Leverkusen respectively with another three points at Hertha Berlin and Mainz this weekend.
Werder Bremen could also be dragged into danger if they fail to pick something up at Augsburg while Hannover will be aiming to build on their first away win of the season when they host Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday evening.
Leverkusen host Stuttgart on Saturday and that leaves Bayern to end the weekend as they started it, at the top of the pile with the only question being how far ahead after they host Eintracht Frankfurt.