With one win in their last five league games, Borussia Moenchengladbach face a tough test in their bid for a Champions League place against Bayer Leverkusen at home on Friday.
Lucien Favre's Gladbach put in a strong finish to 2013 with six straight wins and two draws to start the new year third in the league.
But defeats to league leaders Bayern Munich and a shock 3-1 loss at Hanover 96 last Saturday have seen Favre's side drop to fifth as they prepare to host Sami Hyypia's second-placed Leverkusen on Friday.
Favre is looking for improvement after poor performances in Hanover from Gladbach's stars left-wing Juan Arango, left-back Oscar Wendt and Germany striker Max Kruse, while sports director Max Eberl says the effort was lacking.
"The Bundesliga means 100 percent effort every weekend," said Eberl, with Gladbach 20 points behind leaders Bayern, but only three short of a top-three place which carries Champions League qualification.
"I don't believe everyone put in 100 percent in Hanover and you were left with the feeling that not everyone went to his limit, which was the case in the first half of the season."
Favre said Gladbach will need to contain Germany winger Sidney Sam who returned from injury in last Saturday's 2-1 win at home to Stuttgart with Hyypia's side renown for attacking down the flanks.
Gladbach will be without suspended wing-back Julian Korb, while both centre-backs Martin Stranzl and Rouel Brouwers are struggling with injuries.
Leverkusen have held second place in the league despite a worrying run of three defeats -- all against side in the lower half of the league -- and got back to winning ways last weekend.
Midfielder Stefan Reinartz is struggling with an Achilles tendon injury, while Swiss striker Eren Derdiyok and new-signing Andres Guardado have both trained well despite knocks.