BERLIN (AP) — The Bundesliga's top three appear to be in a league of their own before the 11th round of games, with Borussia Moenchengladbach nine points adrift in fourth.
Unbeaten Bayern Munich can match an all-time record at Hoffenheim, while Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen aim to keep pace with wins over Stuttgart and Eintracht Braunschweig, respectively.
Just six points separate Moenchengladbach and Augsburg in 15th, strengthening the notion of a two-tier league.
Here are five things to know ahead of this weekend's matches.
Avoid defeat at Hoffenheim and Bayern would match the Bundesliga record of 36 games unbeaten set by Hamburger SV between January 1982 and January 1983.
Bayern hasn't lost a league game since a 2-1 home defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in October last year, and won't expect to lose on Saturday, despite Hoffenheim's surprisingly prolific attack.
Hoffenheim, which barely staved off relegation last season, is Germany's top-scoring side with 25 goals in 10 matches so far.
But Bayern has the Bundesliga's meanest defense (six goals conceded) — and Franck Ribery. With the Frenchman in the side, Bayern is undefeated in 39 straight games.
Last week, Ribery overtook Hamburg's Holger Hieronymus as the player with the longest unbeaten streak. The European Footballer of the Year won't want his record to end so soon after setting it.
Onlookers could be forgiven for thinking Dortmund won the Bundesliga on Wednesday, such was the euphoria generated at the news Juergen Klopp had signed a contract extension to remain as coach until 2018.
Klopp, widely credited with masterminding the club's renaissance into domestic and European title contender, had a deal to 2016 but extended with his assistants by another two years because "it is important in life to be in the right place at the right time. And Dortmund for me now is the perfect place."
Dortmund will be in the mood to celebrate Friday against Stuttgart, but the visitors are unbeaten in seven games since Thomas Schneider took over as coach.
Nuremberg hosts Freiburg on Saturday for a clash between the only sides yet to win in the Bundesliga. Nuremberg fired its coach after its poor start and new coach Gertjan Verbeek began his tenure with a draw at Stuttgart last week.
"We have to win against Freiburg," Verbeek said ahead of his home debut.
Meanwhile, counterpart Christian Streich is backing goalkeeper Oliver Baumann, who gave away three goals in a disastrous performance against Hamburg.
"Oliver is guaranteed to be back in goal against Nuremberg and he'll deliver a strong performance, I'm certain of that," said Streich, who added that Freiburg's focus is now "about handling all the unpleasant things that have happened in the last weeks."
Kevin-Prince Boateng had treatment for his troublesome knee complaint on Wednesday but Schalke expect him to be fit for Saturday's visit to ex-club Hertha Berlin.
Boateng played in last week's derby defeat to Dortmund - when he missed a penalty - and in the Champions League loss to Chelsea a few days before, but is clearly not in the form he showed after joining from AC Milan.
With Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Jefferson Farfan both injured, Schalke coach Jens Keller has been turning to Boateng to lead the attack, despite his lack of fitness.
Maybe the Schalke coach would be better served placing his trust in the 18-year-old Max Meyer, who became the youngest player to score in three consecutive Bundesliga games last week.
JEKYLL AND HYDE
Hamburg hasn't lost in four games since Bert van Marwijk took over as coach, with 13 goals scored, meaning visiting Borussia Moenchengladbach faces a difficult prospect to stay fourth on Saturday.
Consistency has been Moenchengladbach's biggest problem for a long time. Lucien Favre's side has not won two league games in a row since February 2012.
The side's away record this season doesn't inspire confidence either - just one point from five games, compared with five wins from five at home. Moenchengladbach stormed to a 4-1 win over Frankfurt last week but Favre was in no mood for celebrating.
"We can't play every game at home," the coach said.