By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern München and their closest challengers RB Leipzig continue their tussle for championship glory this weekend as the race for the Meisterschale heats up.
FC Bayern's uncharacteristic two-game winless run and a formidable four-match streak of victories for RB Leipzig has narrowed the gap at the top of the table to just two points. That leaves the reigning European and German champions with no margin for error when they host Cologne, who have not won in Munich since February 2009, on Saturday afternoon.
Robert Lewandowski, who was rested for the 2-1 win in Cologne earlier in the campaign, has struck in FC Bayern's last two Bundesliga matches, and found the net in the 4-1 win at Lazio midweek. Last season's UEFA Champions League winners are now already within touching distance of the quarter-finals of the 2020/21 competition. The 32-year-old's league-high 26 goals from 21 matches means his pursuit of Gerd Müller's 1971/72 Bundesliga record of 40 top-flight strikes in a single season remains very much within reach.
Should Hansi Flick's men claim all three points, they would then be able to sit back in relative comfort to watch their closest rivals host Borussia Mönchengladbach, in one of the standout fixtures of Matchday 23. RB Leipzig have conceded only one goal in their last four league outings, but face their stiffest test for some time in a Gladbach outfit needing a boost. The Foals will be intent on kickstarting their push for a European qualifying place after a damaging four-game winless streak that has seen them drop down to the mid-table.
While Gladbach have to recover from their UEFA Champions League defeat to Manchester City during the week, Eintracht Frankfurt are hoping to have that luxury problem next term. The Eagles are currently perched handily in fourth place, five points clear of Bayer Leverkusen and only behind VfL Wolfsburg on goal difference. That means another stellar display at Bremen in Friday night's curtain-raiser from sharpshooters Luka Jovic and Andre Silva, who have helped the team score at least twice in every game since mid-December during their spectacular 11-match unbeaten run, will likely lift them into third place.
Wolfsburg will have the chance to reclaim that position at home to struggling Hertha Berlin on Saturday, while Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund, currently six points off the top four in sixth, will hope for the sides ahead of them to slip up while they collect victories at home against SC Freiburg and Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday and Saturday respectively. Currently in seventh, three points adrift of Dortmund, 1. FC Union Berlin's unexpected push for a top six finish continues at home when they take on mid-table TSG Hoffenheim in the German capital.
After their derby battering by Dortmund last time out, bottom side FC Schalke 04 head to VfB Stuttgart looking for their first win in eight league games. Another relegation threatened team, second-from-bottom 1. FSV Mainz 05, will seek to maintain the excellent recent form that has seen them pick up three wins in their last five games. Their opponents FC Augsburg are only six points ahead of the 05ers after earning just four points from their last eight league encounters.