Borussia Dortmund will be aiming to secure their 10th successive victory in all competitions and move to the top of the Bundesliga table when they host RB Leipzig on Friday evening.
Leipzig, meanwhile, could move one point behind their opponents and Bayern Munich at the summit should they be able to win at Signal Iduna Park.
Dortmund continued their perfect form since returning from the World Cup with a 1-0 win away to struggling Hoffenheim last weekend, with Julian Brandt’s 43rd-minute strike enough to keep them level on points with Bayern at the top of the table.
BVB dominated the meeting at Rhein-Neckar Arena, forcing opposition goalkeeper Oliver Baumann into 10 saves across the course of the 90 minutes, although the hosts had moments themselves in an entertaining encounter.
Edin Terzic’s side are heading into their most important week of the season so far, with Friday’s home match against Leipzig providing an opportunity to potentially knock one title contender out of the mix, as victory would move them seven points clear of their former manager Marco Rose’s side.
Meanwhile, Dortmund travel to London to face Chelsea in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday, as they attempt to hold onto their 1-0 lead and book their place in the last eight of Europe’s elite competition.
Having won each of their last nine matches, Terzic and his players could hardly head into two incredibly important matches with more confidence of navigating their way through them with positive results, as they look to prove this season will not be another false dawn for the Yellow Wall.
Leipzig, meanwhile, have displayed great spirit to bounce back from their 2-1 defeat at home to Union Berlin last month, winning two tricky fixtures against Wolfsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt to keep themselves in the Bundesliga’s title frame.
Goals from Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg provided Die Roten Bullen with a healthy 2-0 lead at half time against Frankfurt, who rallied after the break to pull one back through Djibril Sow’s effort moments after the hour mark.
Victory moved Leipzig back into the Champions League qualification places, having come from behind to secure a respectable 1-1 draw against Manchester City in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
While progressing against the English champions at the Etihad Stadium later this month will undoubtedly be a difficult task, it would be foolish to write them off given that the aforementioned defeat to Union Berlin remains Leipzig’s only loss in their last 22 matches.
Likewise, there is every chance that they can put Dortmund’s recent winning streak to an end on Friday evening, especially with Rose set to be more determined than ever to secure a positive result against his most recent club.
Dortmund will remain without Karem Adeyemi, who injured his thigh after scoring for the third successive league game during a recent victory against Hertha Berlin.
Likewise, Julien Duranville, Youssoufa Moukoko, Abdoulaye Kamara and Mateu Morey are all expected to remain sidelined until later this month.
Julian Ryerson missed out against Hoffenheim last weekend due to an eye issue, but the right-back could return to his side’s starting XI on Friday, having impressed since joining from Union Berlin in the January transfer window.
Terzic’s main selection dilemma may prove to be whether to start with two or three conventional central midfielders, with the 40-year-old likely to err on the side of caution and bring Salih Ozcan into the team at the expense of Jamie Bynoe-Gittens.
Leipzig, meanwhile, will travel without Abdou Diallo, Peter Gulasci and Dani Olmo due to existing injuries, while Konrad Laimer is suspended after receiving his fifth caution of the season against Frankfurt last time out.
Xaver Schlager will likely join former Dortmund man Kevin Kampl at the base of the visitors’ midfield, with Christopher Nkunku set to be unleashed from the start after being eased into action from the bench in recent weeks following his recovery from a knee issue.
With Werner and Dominik Szoboszlai near certainties to start on both flanks, Rose may be picking between Amadou Haidara, Andre Silva and Forsberg for the other role in his side. Forsberg may win that particular battle due to his experience and ability to link play.
Borussia Dortmund possible starting lineup:
Kobel; Ryerson, Sule, Schlotterbeck, Guerreiro; Ozcan, Can, Bellingham; Brandt, Haller, Reus
RB Leipzig possible starting lineup:
Blaswich; Henrichs, Orban, Gvardiol, Halstenberg; Kampl, Schlager; Szoboszlai, Forsberg, Werner; Nkunku