Title rivals Bayern Munich and Hoffenheim remain on a collision course to decide who is the Bundesliga’s best on Friday night after both teams picked up wins at the weekend.
Bayern passed rivals Bayer Leverkusen with a 2-0 win on Saturday to go second in the league after goals from Italy’s Luca Toni and Germany striker Miroslav Klose put them three points from first place.
Leaders Hoffenheim travel to Munich’s Allianz Arena on Friday to defend their position at the top of the table.
“We have plenty of respect for Hoffenheim and we’re happy to compliment them, but our aim is to go top at some point soon,” said Bayern coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
“We’ve steadily worked our way towards that, and we’re really looking forward to them coming to Munich.
“It’s a meeting between two top-class teams.”
And the fairytale continues for village team Hoffenheim on their debut season in Germany’s highest league.
They wrapped up an impressive 3-0 win at home to Bielefeld as the league’s top-scorer Vedad Ibisevic opened the scoring with his 17th goal in 15 games.
Carlos Eduardo then made it 2-0 inside the opening 11 minutes before Francisco Copado netted a last-minute spotkick to make it 11 league wins and 34 points from 15 games.
“The next game against Bayern will be very difficult – with their experience Munich have to start as clear favourites,” said Hoffenheim’s Germany defender Marvin Compper.
But coach Ralf Rangnick says confidence in his side is strong and they will take the fight to Bayern on Friday.
“The spirit within the team is at an all-time high,” said Rangnick.
“Everyone put their hand up for places in Munich on Friday and there were some outstanding performances.
“The crew showed the same consistency they have all season and I hope that continues for the rest of the season.”
But Bayern are starting to look worthy of taking over as league leaders as Klinsmann praised his team who have completely turned around their league position from 11th at the start of October to challening for the lead.
“We simply have extra class at the moment,” said Klinsmann.
“There’s so much good football in the team.
“The lads are enjoying themselves and they’re fit, because we’ve worked really hard for four months.
“It’s taken us a while to get up to speed, but the team’s enjoying the fruits of their labours now.
“As we saw in the second half, they’re capable of totally dominating a match now and the goals were just a matter of time.”
And Leverkusen boss Bruno Labbadia had no complaints.
“We were strong for the first 25 minutes and seized the initiative, but then one or two of my players went into reverse gear,” he said.
“We allowed ourselves to be pressed back and stopped getting forward as much. Bayern deserved to win.”
Hoffenheim have a superior goal difference to Bayern and even defeat at Munich’s Allianz Arena on Friday may not be enough to rob them of top spot.
But as Bayern manager Uli Hoeness added: “Now we want to beat Hoffenheim. I’m sure it’ll be a cracking match, and it’ll tell us who has the best team at the moment.”