Despite snow gripping most of Germany right now, the Bundesliga is continuing to heat up. There is a fine selection of fixtures this Matchday with the action spread across four days, and there's plenty of potential for entertainment, drama, and maybe even a few upsets.
The weekend kicks off on Friday night as RB Leipzig host FC Augsburg, before Saturday afternoon features struggling Borussia Dortmund welcoming TSG Hoffenheim as well as Hertha BSC travelling to VfB Stuttgart. In Saturday night's Topspiel Union Berlin face off against bottom of the table Schalke 04. The pick of the matches comes on Sunday, though, as high-flying VfL Wolfsburg take on Borussia Mönchengladbach.
We take a look at three key things to watch out for.
Wolfsburg and Gladbach to be a closely-run affair
The match at the Volkswagen Arena pits two very capable sides with European ambitions against each other. Their fortunes have been slightly different as of late, as Wolfsburg are on a five match winning run, while their opponents have been more inconsistent and come into the game off the back of an unexpected and embarrassing derby defeat to FC Köln.
Both possess highly potent attacks, with Wout Weghorst in imperious form for Die Wölfe and Gladbach being able to spread their goals all across their attacking unit of Lars Stindl, Alassane Plea, and Marcus Thuram among others looking a constant threat. However, with both sides being built on the bedrock of a solid defence, don't expect this to be a high scoring game, but one of high-quality and tactical astuteness. It should make for a fascinatingly close affair, especially with vital points in the race for Europe at stake.
Dortmund face a must-win game
Borussia Dortmund's fixture against TSG Hoffenheim is the exact sort of match which Dortmund should win. However, with recent form in mind, it might not be that easy. Having already lost to lowly Augsburg and Köln (and drawing with Mainz) this season, Die Schwarzgelben have proven themselves to struggle against awkward opposition who have something to prove against one of Germany's premier outfits. Hoffenheim are exactly this sort of side.
With the pressure on Dortmund and Edin Terzic, who has now lost as many games (4) as his predecessor Lucien Favre did this season before being dismissed, this game is an absolute must win. Sitting in 6th and four points off the top four, anything less than a victory would represent a major blow in their pursuit of the Champions League. Achieving this is non-negotiable for the Dortmund board, given the amount of star-players who will look elsewhere should the club not qualify for next season's campaign.
Their opponents this weekend are not to be taken lightly. Having beaten Bayern Munich earlier in the season, they're led by star man Andrej Kramaric who has returned to his fine form of late, scoring 13 goals already this season. Dortmund will have to be somewhere near their best if they are to overcome Sebastian Hoeneß's side.
Union to use a win against Schalke to get their season going again
Despite a blistering start to the campaign, Union Berlin have struggled since Christmas, picking up only two wins in the last seven and have slipped down into 9th place. For a team who has looked like they should be at least competing for the Europa League berths for large part of the season, they will be looking for a kickstart against Schalke on Saturday.
This will be no easy feat. Schalke have shown slightly more fight lately, buoyed by new loanee arrivals including Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Sead Kolasinac, and Shkodran Mustafi. They won't want to simply roll over and be condemned to almost certain relegation by a team which has only been in the league for two seasons, so expect the Royal Blues to be ready.
For Union, the chances to score will almost certainly present themselves in abundance given this Schalke has side has already conceded an astonishing 52 goals, which is 12 more than any other Bundesliga team. The goals have dried up recently for the capital club, though, thanks in part to the continued absence of star man Max Kruse and Taiwo Awoniyi looking increasingly tired as he continues to fill in. Expect Peter Musa, who they added in January, to lead the line for Die Eisern and to try and get his first goal for the club to secure Union's first league win against Schalke.