BERLIN - Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich will hope to extend their advantage at the top of the table at home to Augsburg this weekend while their two main pursuers face tricky away matches.
The record champions host a Bavarian derby on Saturday while RB Leipzig travel to Bayer Leverkusen. Dortmund open the action away to VfB Stuttgart on Friday.
Bayern's training potential has been limited this week with many stars on international duty but coach Jupp Heynckes shrugged off the burden.
"The week started well, it's fun to work with the lads," he said. "The preparations for Augsburg are in full swing even if some players are still missing, but that's normal at a top club. You just have to accept the handicap."
Franck Ribery resumed training after a knee injury on October 1 but is unlikely to return, though Juan Bernat could make a first appearance of the season.
Augsburg are 10th, having faded a little after a sensational start to the campaign.
"We're going in to the game with the intention of getting all that we can," coach Manuel Baum told the club website. "We obviously know that Bayern are a force in the Bundesliga when they get on a roll. Despite that though, we want to come away with points."
Dortmund also made a wonderful beginning to the season under new boss Peter Bosz but have now won just one of their last seven in all competitions - and that against lower-tier Magdeburg in the cup.
The last outing was a comprehensive 3-1 defeat at home to Bayern to fall six points behind the leaders.
"I'm feeling optimistic, because we've been able to train properly," Bosz said: "We were able to train with 12 or 13 players over the international break, not with just four or five."
Newly-promoted Stuttgart have been excellent at home, however, earning all 13 of their points so far in front of their own fans.
And they could be boosted by welcoming back captain Christian Gentner from severe facial injuries.
"He has trained well and enough," coach Hannes Wolf said. "So long as nothing unexpected happens in the remaining training sessions prior to the game, he will be in the squad."
Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich is hoping Leon Bailey can recover from illness to meet Leipzig.
Schalke, at home to SV Hamburg on Sunday, could break into the top three with a positive result and other games going their way before second-bottom Werder Bremen conclude the weekend against Hanover.
Werder coach Florian Kohfeldt has promised he will end his side's winless start to the season in the fixture.
"I want to emphasise this really clearly, at the end of the day, football is all about getting results," he told the Werder website. "If you have lost three, four or five games in a row, then you don't have a leg to stand on.
"But we won't do that. We're going to win on Sunday."
Last-placed Cologne, who head to Mainz on Saturday for a clash in the carnival region of Germany, are also seeking a first victory.
"We are now obligated to pick up points," said Cologne keeper Timo Horn. "I think our team has the quality to do it."
Fifth hosts seventh when Hoffenheim welcome Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg search for a first win under coach Martin Schmidt at home to Freiburg in Saturday's other matches before the Hertha Berlin v Borussia Moenchengladbach late kick-off.