BERLIN - Borussia Dortmund's clash with resurgent St Pauli on Saturday could throw the German title race wide open again after Jurgen Klopp's team stumbled to two consecutive draws in their bid for a first title since 2002.
Dortmund have now failed for the first time this season to win at least one of two matches while St Pauli have won three in a row.
With champions Bayern Munich hosting Dortmund in just over a week, any points dropped against the Hamburg club could prove crucial in their title race.
The draws have cut Dortmund's lead at the top to a still comfortable 10 points ahead of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen and 13 from third-placed Bayern but it could be as few as four points after the Bayern game.
"We must lick our wounds now and pull ourselves together," Klopp said this week. "When we start playing good football again then we will start winning again."
The coach was unfazed by their second draw in as many weeks saying his team would come back.
Klopp, however, will not have key central defender Neven Subotic at his disposal when St Pauli visit the Westfalen stadium after he was sent off last week.
He will also decide on Friday whether to deploy midfielder Sven Bender, who missed some training sessions this week with minor muscle trouble.
Captain Sebastian Kehl, who returned to play with the reserves this week after a five-month injury break, is not expected to make the team just yet.
But Dortmund players are determined to get their title run back on track as quickly as possible.
"This is nonsense. Total rubbish," said central defender Mats Hummels when asked if Borussia were slowly running out of steam and their rivals were catching up with them. "We will bounce back."
Bayern, who have Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben back fit and sparkling form, will be looking to get all three points at Mainz 05, who have managed to win only one of their five previous games since the winter break after a sensational first half to the season.
Bayer Leverkusen, on 42 points and three ahead of Bayern, host relegation-threatened VfB Stuttgart, hoping their opponents' internal crisis, will help them to an easy win to keep Dortmund under pressure.