Bayern, Leverkusen set for massive showdown

Leverkusen, Germany (SportsNetwork.com) - Bayern Munich will face its biggest Bundesliga test of the new campaign on Saturday when it heads to the BayArena to take on Bayer Leverkusen.

The Bundesliga season is only seven games deep, but it is already looking like a three-team race for the title as Bayern, Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund have separated themselves from the rest of the pack. Dortmund and Bayern enter the weekend in first place with 19 points while Leverkusen follows closely on 18 points.

And should the trio continue to go through the season neck-and-neck-and-neck, the title could be decided based on which side takes the most points from matches against the others. The first such match will transpire on Saturday.

On paper, Bayern certainly feels like the favorite. The Bavarians claimed the Bundesliga title last season by a wide margin and only improved its squad in the offseason, adding the likes of Mario Gotze and Thiago Alcantara.

Even Leverkusen manager Sami Hyypia admitted that his side will need to "perform at 100 percent in all positions" in order to claim a positive result against Pep Guardiola's well-oiled Bayern side.

Both sides are coming off of midweek Champions League victories. Bayern bossed Manchester City in a 3-1 win at the Etihad while Leverkusen needed a spectacular free kick from Jens Hegeler in the dying minutes to get a 2-1 win over Real Sociedad on Wednesday.

"It won't work if we commit the same mistakes we did during the second half on Wednesday," Hyypia added.

Leverkusen could hold a slight psychological edge heading into Saturday's clash having handed Bayern its lone Bundesliga defeat last term, which came in the form of a 2-1 defeat at the Allianz Arena on Oct. 28. But Bayern has been in commanding form since, piecing together a 32-game unbeaten streak in league play.

Dortmund can apply pressure on both sides with a victory in its early kickoff on Saturday - Jurgen Klopp's men will square off against Borussia Monchengladbach at Borussia Park.

Schalke has made a disappointing start to its Bundesliga campaign. The club harbored aspirations competing for a top-flight title, but it has suffered three losses in its opening seven contests to slip to the bottom-half of the table. Schalke will look to bounce back on Saturday when it welcomes Augsburg to the Veltins Arena.

Also on Saturday, Mainz will attempt to snap a four-game losing streak when it welcomes Hoffenheim to the Coface Arena, Stuttgart hopes to extend its unbeaten run to five games when it hosts Werder Bremen at the Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion and Braunschweig goes for its first league victory of the season when it heads to the Volkswagen Arena to face Wolfsburg.

On Sunday, Freiburg seeks its first victory when it welcomes Eintracht Frankfurt to the Mage Solar Stadion while Hamburg and Nurnberg hope to pull further away from the relegation zone when the two sides meet at the EasyCredit-Stadion.

And on Friday, Ronny scored nine minutes from time to rescue a point for Hertha Berlin in a 1-1 draw with Hannover.