Frankfurt: The Bundesliga title will be on the line when Borussia Dortmund host Bayern Munich on Wednesday in the most anticipated match of the season.
Defending champions Dortmund hold a three-point lead going into the showdown, with five matches remaining. Bayern, however, have a better goal difference and would take over first place with a win before 80,000 mostly hostile fans.
Dortmund are undefeated in 23 matches and are coming off a 3-1 win in Wolfsburg. Bayern looked lethargic in a 2-1 win at home over lowly Augsburg on Saturday.
Dortmund's coach Juergen Klopp has tried to play down the importance of the match.
"I don't think the title will be decided on Wednesday because after that there will be still 12 points to be won," Klopp said ahead of the match.
"I would be insulting the intelligence of my players if I kept repeating how important every match is," Klopp added. "The most likely scenario is that it is going to remain very close until the end."
But Dortmund's two subsequent matches are against Schalke and Borussia Moenchengladbach, the two teams right behind Bayern in the standings, and a defeat on Wednesday would be hard to make up.
"The pressure is on Bayern, they said before the season even started that they want the title," Dortmund's defender Neven Subotic said. "And I still think the title will be decided on the last day."
After strong performances to reach the semifinals of the Champions League, Bayern have plodded through some matches in the Bundesliga but they have collected wins. Mario Gomez, who scored both goals against Augsburg, tops the scorers' list with 25 goals. Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski is not far behind at 19.
"We are really looking forward to the match against Bayern," Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller said. "It's exceptional. Wednesday evening, floodlights, sold-out stadium, that's something unique for every player."
Dortmund hope to establish themselves as the long-term rivals to Bayern, historically most dominant team in the Bundesliga.
After cruising through to the title last season, Dortmund got off to a poor start. But they picked up speed just as Bayern went through a midseason slump and surged into the top.
Bayern have been creeping back and have won their last five matches to put themselves in position to determine their own fate.
"It's not easy to win in Dortmund," Bayern's midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said. "But we are going there to extend our winning run. I don't care how, I want to win there.
"I don't think the championship will be decided because there are still five matches to play. The season will be decided on the last day. But the team that wins on Wednesday will have an advantage," Schweinsteiger said.
Bayern have lost the last three matches against Dortmund, "but by now we know the strengths and the weaknesses of Dortmund," Schweinsteiger added. "When we do what the coach tells us, we can win there. Dortmund has a super team, however, and every one of us will have to play at his best."
After failing to win a trophy last season, Bayern are on course for a treble. If they can overcome Real Madrid, they will be in the Champions League final, which will be played in their stadium next month. Bayern also have another date with Dortmund when the sides meet in the German Cup final. Dortmund can win the domestic double for the first time.
In Tuesday's matches of the 30th round, it's: Hertha Berlin vs. Freiburg, Augsburg vs. Stuttgart, Mainz vs. Cologne and Werder Bremen vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach.
On Wednesday, it's: Nuremberg vs. Schalke, Hoffenheim vs. Hamburger SV, Bayer Leverkusen vs. Kaiserslautern and Hannover vs. Wolfsburg.