Bayern Munich coach Jurgen Klinsmann has warned the rest of the Bundesliga not to under-estimate the strength of top-flight new boys TSG Hoffenheim.
Ralf Rangnick's side have shocked many observers by making a superb start to the campaign, with a 3-0 weekend win over Hamburg sending a serious warning to the rest of German football.
Klinsmann told his club's official website: "Right at the start of the season, before a ball had been kicked, I said Hoffenheim were contenders for a place in Europe at the minimum.
"Their team has been meticulously put together according to a solid strategic plan and they'll go a long way.
"TSG are full of quality, the club is solid as a rock and they're under no pressure from the media. No-one expects miracles from their players, so they're good for surprise after surprise every week.
"They'll finish in the top five and on the evidence of the first nine games, you've got to assume they're genuine rivals and contenders for the title."
However, Hoffenheim coach Rangnick has warned his players not to get carried away with their new-found prominence.
He added: "I am not interested about next May. It would be wise to take things step by step and fully concentrate on the next game.
"The most important thing is that the players don't believe what has been written in the press about them. I know there is danger of making mistakes in a situation like this."