Monchengladbach, Germany – Monchengladbach stunned Borussia Dortmund late last season to help avoid relegation, and less than nine months later, meets the defending Bundesliga champions with first place on the line.
Gladbach has been the surprise team in Germany this season, turning a season- opening win at Bayern Munich into one of its best seasons in decades to date. The five-time German champions can return to the summit Saturday.
Monchengladbach earned a temporary spot atop the Bundesliga last week after a 3-0 win over Cologne to open the weekend's action. But although the win moved Gladbach's win streak to four games, it was also costly.
Coach Lucien Favre's squad lost star Marco Reus to a broken foot in the match, and he will miss this weekend's match at Borussia-Park between the clubs level on points atop the standings.
"It's difficult to work out Gladbach without Reus, but even if he is missing they've got a really good group of players at their disposal," Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp said.
Dortmund, which has won seven times during an eight-match unbeaten run, holds the lead on goal differential.
But since Gladbach beat Dortmund on Matchday 31 last season 1-0, it has been a different team under Favre. The current manager took over in February of last season, and has the team reviving memories of past years glory.
Monchengladbach won five German titles from 1970-77, and made one European Cup final in that span as well. Since the win over Dortmund last season, Favre has not coached his side in a loss at home.
"Monchengladbach want to be the surprise of the season, but a team capable of starting a campaign like this having battled relegation," Klopp said, "they're made of steel."
Dortmund equaled Gladbach with a win two weeks ago over Bayern, which started the season as the hottest team in Europe. But the defending champions regained the lead last week for the first time, as Bayern slipped up again.
So Klopp's side will defend the top spot this week in a Borussia showdown, and his side is healthy with Gladbach in some trouble. Reus leads the club with 10 of the club's 23 goals through 14 matches this season.
In addition, striker Igor de Camargo will miss the match with a back injury as Favre will have to solve "one of the best teams in Germany and Europe," without the duo.
Even without the pair, Favre said he has "respect, but no fear," of Dortmund.
Also Saturday, Bayern will try to end a two-match losing streak when its hosts Werder Bremen. Bayern is second and just one point off the top and Bremen sits just three points off the top in fourth.
In the day's other matches, Freiburg hosts Hannover, Stuttgart hosts Cologne, Kaiserslautern hosts Hertha Berlin, and Wolfsburg hosts Mainz. Hamburg hosts Nurnberg, and Schalke hosts Augsburg on Sunday to wrap up the week's action.
On Friday, Eren Derdiyok and Sidney Sam scored as Bayer Leverkusen pushed its unbeaten streak to five games and moved within four points of first place with a 2-0 win over Hoffenheim at the BayArena.