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Leg 1
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By ESPN Staff

Chasing pack look to hunt down Bayern

The pursuit of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich steps up this weekend with Schalke able to move to a point behind the Bavarians, whose eight-game winning start to the season was ended in a 2-1 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen last weekend.

That result turned a monologue for the Bundesliga title into at least a two-horse race with Schalke closing in fast, but it also gave sides like Borussia Dortmund reason for optimism.

A year ago, Dortmund found themselves in a similar situation with the same nine-point deficit on Bayern, yet they still went on to win the league comfortably.

A grey November cost Bayern dearly and a repeat of that collapse would throw the league wide open, although Schalke are doing enough by themselves to ensure Bayern are well aware of their challenge.

The Royal Blues have won six games in a row in all competitions, most notably beating Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and winning at Arsenal in the Champions League.

They also successfully masterminded a tricky DFB Pokal clash with SV Sandhausen in midweek and head into their fixture with Hoffenheim in confident mood, but Schalke boss Huub Stevens has warned against complacency.

"It is going to be a very tough away game,'' he said. "They have a lot of quality in their attack and every single one of us will have our work cut out to disrupt them.''

A win for Schalke would put the pressure on Bayern Munich, who travel to Hamburg on Saturday evening.

Eintracht Frankfurt could move to within two points of Bayern on Friday night when they host Greuther Furth at the Waldstadion with Dortmund hosting Stuttgart in the repeat fixture of arguably the most dramatic Bundesliga game last season.

The two sides battled out a 4-4 draw at the Westfalenstadion in March, a result which jeopardised Dortmund's title push and helped the Swabians on their way into the Europa League.

This time, in-form Stuttgart need the points to continue their climb up the table while Dortmund could close to within six points of Bayern with all three points.

Elsewhere, Wolfsburg will look to continue their revival under Lorenz-Gunther Kostner with a win at an out-of-sorts Nurnberg, who have lost five of their past six games, guaranteed to take them above their hosts and out of the relegation zone.

Augsburg can also move out of the bottom two with a win at Hannover while Borussia Monchengladbach host Freiburg.

On Sunday, Bayer Leverkusen meet Fortuna Dusseldorf in a Westphalian derby with Mainz's trip to Werder Bremen the final game of this, the 10th round of matches in the Bundesliga.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report


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