Bayern desperate to avoid third successive defeat
Bayern Munich host Werder Bremen on Saturday desperate to avoid suffering a third straight German league defeat for the first time in 14 years.
The last time the Bavarians lost three in succession was during February and March 1998 under Italian coach Giovanni Trapattoni, but a win over Bremen would put them back on top if leaders Dortmund draw at Moenchengladbach.
Having been five points clear just a few weeks ago, recent defeats at home to Dortmund and at Mainz have seen Bayern drop to third in the table, with Bremen just two points behind in fourth.
Munich are still only a point behind both second-placed 'Gladbach and Dortmund, who meet on Saturday in a weekend of key Bundesliga fixtures with just three points separating first and fourth place.
Despite having qualified for the knock-out phase of the Champions League, Bayern have stumbled in the domestic league and badly need a win to stop the rot at Munich's Allianz Arena.
Last Sunday's 3-2 defeat at Mainz damaged confidence and both Munich president Uli Hoeness and chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge are demanding a handsome win over Bremen.
"I expect our team to make up for the embarrassment of their pitiful performance at Mainz," said Hoeness.
"Now, there's no excuse. The team have ample opportunity between now and Christmas to get back on top."
Rummenigge had some unorthodox advice for Bayern's stars against Bremen.
"Run, fight, scratch and bite. That's what I would recommend the team do," said the Bayern boss.
"Now it is extremely important that the team gets back on the right track against Bremen."
Bayern will be without injured star Bastian Schweinsteiger, who is recovering from a broken collarbone and Ukrainian midfielder Anatoliy Tymoshchuk who is suspended.
Bremen are missing goalkeeper Tim Wiese, who is grieving after the death of his father.
Munich suffered a scare on Wednesday when star striker Mario Gomez, who has netted 13 goals in 13 league games, suffered a bruised shin after a training clash with Tymoshchuk, but is expected to play.
Dutch winger Arjen Robben is set to return after missing the Mainz defeat with a back injury.
While Munich have struggled recently, Bremen are on the rise after last weekend's 2-0 win over Stuttgart and have won three of their last four games.
"We feel confident we can go there and get at least a point, maybe three, which would give us a great chance to stay at the top," said defender Naldo.
Dortmund are unbeaten in their last eight games, taking 22 points from a possible 24, as they travel to 'Gladbach.
The hosts are waiting to see if star wing Marco Reus, who has 10 goals this season, will be fit to play after breaking his toe last weekend.
Having flirted with relegation last season, 'Gladbach have become a force to be reckoned with under coach Lucien Favre, who kept them up, and they have won their last four games, hammering Bremen and Cologne in the process.
Having beaten Munich and Schalke in succession, Dortmund are rediscovering the form which saw them win last season's title by seven points and Jurgen Klopp's team want to stay top with the league set to break for winter on December 18.
Bayer Leverkusen v Hoffenheim
Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen, Freiburg v Hanover 96, Kaiserslautern v Hertha Berlin, VfL Wolfsburg v Mainz 05, Borussia M'gladbach v Borussia Dortmund, VfB Stuttgart v Cologne
Hamburg v Nuremberg, Schalke 04 v Augsburg
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