Faltering Bayern Munich hope to break their second mini winless streak this season when they host Bayer Leverkusen today to launch their counter-attack on top spot in Germany.
For the first time since September 2015, second-placed Bayern do not top the table at the start of a weekend of Bundesliga fixtures.
Having won the Bundesliga title in each of the last four seasons, things are currently not going Bayern’s way.
Following their home draw with Hoffenheim, narrow defeat at Borussia Dortmund and 3-2 loss at Russia’s Rostov in the Champions League on Wednesday, Bayern are wobbling.
This is the second time the Bavarian giants have gone three games without a win since Carlo Ancelotti took charge at the start of the season. Poor defending was at the root of their problem.
The tension around the defending German champions is clear, especially as the Rostov defeat ended their hopes of winning their Champions League group.
“It’s useless to make a circus out of things now,” fumed chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after the loss in Rostov.
“We have to do things better, especially in Saturday’s next game against Bayer Leverkusen.”
Captain Philipp Lahm denies Bayern are in crisis, but “at he moment we are a bit careless and making too many mistakes.
“We don’t seem to know that our opponents can also score and will punish our mistakes,” he added, bemused.
Bayern are waiting on the fitness of defender Jerome Boateng.
The Germany centre-back suffered a thigh injury in Rostov and was criticised by Rummenigge for a poor display, but the whole Bayern defence is currently shaky.
Leverkusen are buoyed from their midweek Champions League draw at CSKA Moscow which means they progress at the expense to the last 16 at the expense of Tottenham Hotspur.
The sides drew 0-0 in Leverkusen in February on their previous meeting and it is four years since Bayer last poached a win in Munich.
Third-placed Dortmund are at Eintracht Frankfurt having welcomed back Germany winger Marco Reus, who led the scoring in their record 8-4 drubbing of Legia Warsaw on Tuesday.
Coach Thomas Tuchel, who made nine changes for the side which beat Bayern, has a few defensive frailties to fix.
Antony Modeste, the league’s joint top scorer with 12 goals alongside Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, will look to add to his tally for fourth-placed Cologne against Augsburg.
Fifth-placed Hoffenheim, who along with RB Leipzig, are still unbeaten this season, are at Borussia Moenchengladbach, who are 13th.
Gladbach held Manchester City to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday which ended their Champions League hopes and booked their passage into the Europa League.
The draw took some pressure off coach Andre Schubert, but his side are winless in their last six games.
(all times 1430 GMT unless stated)
Borussia Moenchengladbach vs Hoffenheim, Cologne vs Augsburg, Hamburg vs Werder Bremen, Ingolstadt vs Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt vs Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich vs Bayer Leverkusen (1730)
Schalke 04 vs Darmstadt, Hertha Berlin vs Mainz (1630)
Bayern Munich’s Italian head coach Carlo Ancelotti.