Munich, Germany – With only one win in its last eight Bundesliga matches, Schalke would probably prefer to see a different opponent than Bayern Munich lining up across from them on Saturday.
The trip to the Allianz Arena comes after one of the worst results of the season for the Gelsenkirchen outfit, a 2-1 home defeat to last-place Greuther Furth which dropped Schalke to sixth place.
With their European hopes gradually slipping, Schalke is in need of a big result to turn things around, but it won't come easily at the runaway leaders.
Schalke striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar, who is tied for the team lead with five goals, will miss the match because of an eye injury, while another key player, midfielder Julian Draxler, is a question as he continues to battle a cold.
Bayern enters the contest with no such issues as the Bavarians have outscored the opposition by a combined score of 7-0 in their first three games following the winter break.
A 12-point cushion at the top of the league to start the weekend has given Bayern plenty of confidence, and it is hard to see them taking their foot off the pedal now.
Borussia Dortmund moved into second place with a win over Bayer Leverkusen last weekend and the defending champions take on Hamburg having won their last four league games.
Leverkusen hopes to bounce back from that defeat at Monchengladbach, which resides in seventh place and very much in contention for a place in Europe.
Eintracht holds a six-point advantage on fifth-place Mainz and hopes to continue its push for an unlikely Champions League place when the team entertains bottom-half Nurnberg.
Struggling Hoffenheim visits Hannover, Greuther Furth attempts to win its third game of the campaign when the club hosts Wolfsburg, Werder Bremen invades Stuttgart, Mainz travels to second-from-the-bottom Augsburg and Freiburg tangles with Dusseldorf.