While Bayern Munich stretched their lead at the top of the Bundesliga table to 18 points after Friday's win against Wolfsburg, the battle for second place is wide open. Three teams are within two points of each other, and two of them will face each other on Saturday when Borussia Dortmund host Eintracht Frankfurt.
A week ago, BVB were handed their worst loss of the season, a 4-1 defeat to Hamburg. Not only was the loss hard to take, but Robert Lewandowski was shown a straight red card for a rash challenge. The Polish international will not only miss this weekend's match, but he's slated to miss the following two matches also. Midweek in the Champions League against Shakhtar Donetsk, they showed once again that they are prone to defensive lapses that can cost them dearly.
How can they right the ship against Frankfurt on Saturday? Well, it's definitely going to help that Neven Subotic is expected back in the side. I think Felipe Santana is quite a good centerback, but Subotic is better. The Serbian should bring some stability due to the familiarity that he and Mats Hummels have together.
I've been under the assumption all week that İlkay Gündoğan would also miss this match, but BVB reported near the end of the week that there was a possibility that he would return for the match. If he does, it could swing the momentum entirely toward BVB.
Frankfurt are one of the few sides in the division this season that will head to the Westfalenstadion with real thoughts of taking all three points. For all of the talk about the "fortress" that is Signal Iduna Park, BVB have lost three times and drawn twice at home already this year.
The front four of Srđan Lakić, Takashi Inui, Alexander Meier, and Stefan Aigner has been extremely fun to watch. Lakić, coming on loan at the club in January, has quickly adjusted and has two goals to his name already. The real story has been the play of Meier who is near the top of the league in goals out of the midfield. His impressive form has forced clubs to play him tight in an attempt to muscle him off the ball early and often.
For a newly promoted side to progress as high in the table as Frankfurt have, not only do they need to be scoring goals, but the big issue is preventing them. The back four of Sebastian Jung, Carlos Zambrano, Anderson Bamba, and Bastian Oczipka has been solid so far this year. Goalkeeper Kevin Trapp made the move over from Kaiserslautern in the summer. They were relegated after a dead last finish. It's safe to say that Trapp won't have to worry about that again this season.
Borussia Dortmund injuries and suspensions
Out: Robert Lewandowski (suspended), Patrick Owomoyela (leg), Kevin Großkreutz (illness). Doubtful: İlkay Gündoğan (thigh)
Lewandowski is missing out after picking up a red card last week, and Großkreutz is still recovering from an illness. There is a possibility that Gündoğan could return to the side this weekend after recovering from injury. Owomoyela remains out.
Eintracht Frankfurt injuries and suspensions
They have no injuries or suspensions this week. No, really. They don't.
Match Date/Time: 18:30 CET, 12:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany
TV: Gol TV (U.S.), Gol TV (Canada), Sky Sport 1 (Germany), ESPN (UK)
Streaming: William Hill (UK), Sky Go (Germany)