Bayern Munich are winless in their last two games and forward Thomas Muller says they can ill afford to concede anymore Bundesliga points in hosting resurgent Werder Bremen on Saturday.
Bayern’s lead has been trimmed to five points by a shock home defeat to Mainz and a goalless draw at second-placed Borussia Dortmund.
With nine games left, Pep Guardiola-coached Bayern are aiming to become the first club to win four consecutive Bundesliga titles.
“We know the championship has not yet been decided,” Muller said.
“We don’t want to see the five-point lead reduced any further and I am convinced we’ll do it, but there are still a few tasks ahead of us.”
While Bayern are feeling the pressure, Bremen are on the rise up the table to 13th after back-to-back wins against Bayer Leverkusen and Hanover.
Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski (23) and Mueller (17) have formed a phenomenal partnership this season with 40 league goals between them.
Bremen striker Claudio Pizarro, 37, has scored 11 goals and five in his last three games.
The Peru international is just one short of the club record of 101 league goals and it would be fitting to do it at the Allianz Arena having played for Bayern in two separate stints.
Bayern’s World Cup-winner Mario Goetze has yet to play a minute in 2016 having returned from a groin injury more than a month ago.
Dortmund have a tricky match against Mainz to negotiate on Sunday when head coach Thomas Tuchel returns to his former club.
Fifth-placed Mainz improved Dortmund’s title chances by beating Bayern 2-1 nearly two weeks ago and Martin Schmidt’s side has also beaten Schalke 04 and Bayer Leverkusen in recent weeks.
Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang resumes his battle with Lewandowski to be the league’s top scorer with the Gabon striker on 22 goals, one behind Bayern’s Poland hotshot.
Having booked their place in the Champions League’s quarter-finals, Wolfsburg are at second-from-bottom Hoffenheim with both Germany internationals Julian Draxler and Andre Schuerrle in great form.
Draxler set up Schuerrle for the winning goal in their 1-0 victory over Gent on Tuesday, but faces a race against time to be fit after picking up a dead leg.
Bottom side Hannover host Cologne on Saturday with both teams threatened with relegation.
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Hanover, who have leaked eight goals in their last two matches, have lost ten of their last 11 games.
They are nine points from safety, but have Japanese playmaker Hiroshi Kiyotake back from injury.
Cologne have more reason for optimism in 12th and six points from the relegation places.
The weekend’s programme starts with a bang on Friday when third-placed Hertha Berlin host Schalke, their nearest rivals in the table, who are just one point adrift.
Schalke are four games unbeaten, with two wins and two draws, which is their longest unbeaten run since Andre Breitenreiter took charge at the start of the season.
But Hertha have not lost any of their last seven fixtures at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, and have conceded just two goals in the process, which is their longest unbeaten streak at home in the Bundesliga.
FIXTURES (all times UAE)
Hertha Berlin v Schalke (11.30pm)
Borussia Moenchengladbach v Eintracht Frankfurt (9.30pm)
Hanover 96 v Cologne (9.30pm)
Hoffenheim v Wolfsburg (9.30pm)
Ingolstadt v VfB Stuttgart (9.30pm)
Darmstadt v Augsburg (9.30pm)
Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen (9.30pm)
Bayer Leverkusen v Hamburg (8.30pm)
Borussia Dortmund v Mainz (8.30pm)
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