The auditions for this year's Rockettes begin on Saturday morning at the Westfalenstadion.
Schalke 04's visit to Dortmund for the Revierderby headlines this weekend's fixtures in the Bundesliga. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich visit Mainz, Bremen take on Stuttgart, and Borussia Mönchengladbach battle to stay in the title chase against Köln.
Friday, November 25
FC Köln vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
Three straight wins has 'Gladbach combined with Bayern's loss last week have Lucien Favre's team right in the thick of the title race, just two points behind the Bavarians. Marco Reus was brilliant yet again for them as the bagged a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of Bremen, and they'll hope he continues his strong start to the season as 'Gladbach have lost two of their last three away matches. Köln's match last weekend was postponed after referee Babak Rafati attempted to kill himself before the match; (impossible transition, best wishes to Mr. Rafati and his family) Köln have been pretty inconsistent so far, but they have won their last three matches at home, and should provide a tough test for 'Gladbach.
Saturday, November 26
Borussia Dortmund vs. Schalke 04
This is, without question, the game of the weekend. After BVB beat Bayern last weekend, Dortmund are now just two points in arrears of the leaders, with Schalke a single point further back in fourth. Revierderbies are always heated affairs, and this one should be even spicier than normal considering the importance of this match in the title chase. Dortmund dominated both matches last season, winning 3-1 in Gelsenkirchen thanks to a virtuoso performance by Shinji Kagawa, but a spectacular show by Manuel Neuer (and the woodwork) kept BVB at bay at the Westfalenstadion as the hosts had to settle for a 0-0 draw. Both sides have been very enterprising going forward this season, but Schalke have been much more suspect at the back, and in spite of Dortmund's injury problems (they lost Sven Bender to a broken jaw against Arsenal in midweek) and their trouble in Europe, die Königsblauen could have a hard time in this match.
FC Augsburg vs. VfL Wolfsburg
Augsburg have yet to win at home this season (they're also cellar-dwellers on eight points), while Wolfsburg have claimed just four points from twenty-one on their travels. Augsburg can't defend at home (eleven conceded in six matches), while Wolfsburg have been shipping more than two goals a game away from home (nineteen in seven). This could be entertaining, or it could be awful. Watch the Revierderby.
Hertha Berlin vs. Bayer Leverkusen
The newly-promoted side and last season's runners'-up are separated by just four points thirteen games into this campaign, and Hertha will look to stop Bayer's momentum after wins over Kaiserslautern last weekend and Chelsea in midweek. However, the visitors should come into this game very confident after their late winner in the Champions League and with an impressive away record. Bayer are certainly favorites, but Herth have had a surprisingly good start to the season and could cause them problems.
Nürnberg vs. Kaiserslautern
FCN have had an abysmal start to the year after a very good 2010-11 and they must improve against a Kaiserslautern side that has the worst goalscoring record in the Bundesliga. After three straight defeats by a combined scoreline of 10-1 and no wins since early September, the pressure is mounting on Dieter Hecking. 'Lautern haven't been doing very well either, but they've scraped out enough low-scoring draws to be a point above the relegation play-off place, currently occupied by Nürnberg. This will probably be a close one, but Nürnberg are due for a win, surely. They must be. Okay, maybe not.
Hoffenheim vs. SC Freiburg
This should be a clash of two mid-table teams, but Freiburg's defense has been fairly porous this season, particularly away from home, and they find themselves second from bottom in the table. Hoffenheim are enduring a poor run of form, with just one win in their last seven, but they're only four points adrift of the European places and have performed slightly better at home than on their travels. Hoffe should be able to sneak out a victory.
Hannover 96 vs. Hamburg SV
Saturday's late kickoff pits a Hannover side that is dealing rather well with the demands of European and domestic competitions against yet-again-underachieving Hamburg, which picked up its first win in four matches last weekend. HSV do seem to be getting closer to figuring out this "defending" business, as they recorded their first clean sheet of the season in that victory over Hoffenheim last Sunday, while Hannover were on the wrong end of a 4-1 battering in Wolfsburg. However, Hannover have yet to lose at home this season in all competitions, and HSV are not a good road team.
Sunday, November 27
Werder Bremen vs. VfB Stuttgart
Bremen's title charge took a knock last week when Marco Reus-inspired Borussia Mönchengladbach inflicted a crushing 5-0 defeat upon Thomas Schaaf's side. Stuttgart are in sixth, just two points behind their weekend opponents after defeating Augsburg last weekend, and will hope to become the second opponent to take points off of Bremen at the Weserstadion so far this year. Claudio Pizarro has had a red-hot start to the season, scoring eleven goals in just thirteen games, but he'll be up against one of the better defenses in the Bundesliga this weekend, while Stuttgart's Martin Harnik and Cacau will be looking forward to facing a Bremen backline that hasn't kept a clean sheet since early September.
Mainz 05 vs. Bayern München
Bayern will have felt a bit hard done by after their defeat against Dortmund last week, and there could hardly be a better game to get their league campaign back on track than a visit to the Coface Arena, where Mainz have already lost five times this year, including five of the last six. The Bavarians' victory over Villareal in midweek ensured passage through to the Champions League Round of 16 as the top seed in Group A, and much like on Tuesday, anything but a win here for Bayern would be fairly surprising -- Mainz are just not playing well this season.