Bayern Munich playmaker Bastian Schweinsteiger could make his comeback after a lengthy injury break against Hoffenheim on Saturday with the Bavarians desperate to keep pace with leaders Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern have seen their three-point Bundesliga lead since the winter break transform into a seven-point deficit, after an erratic start to the year which looks to have derailed their treble chances.
Schweinsteiger's absence since early February with a ligament injury has proved costly with Bayern winning only two of their five games in all competitions during that time.
His return could not have come at a more crucial moment in the championship race with another slip-up almost certain to end their title hopes.
"I am not 100 percent yet. Ideally I would need two or three games but as things are now I have to be ready from the word go," Schweinsteiger told reporters after returning to training this week.
"We need to find our own game again," said the Germany international in reference to their winning streak earlier this season.
Bayern, who are still in the Champions League and the German Cup semi-finals, will have their work cut out against Hoffenheim, who have yet to lose under coach Markus Babbel - a former Bayern player - in four games.
"When you play 16 years for such a club, [winning] becomes your second nature," Babbel said. "We will try to keep up with them and maybe even spring a surprise. We have to use any of our chances to the full."
Dortmund, top on 55 points, are traveling to relegation-threatened Augsburg, looking to extend their unbeaten run to 19 games. They have also won their last eight league games in a row to leave them eyeing a second consecutive title.
"The way they are playing at the moment it is difficult to catch up with them," said Schweinsteiger.
Third-placed Borussia Monchengladbach, on 47 points and one behind Bayern, entertain gutsy Freiburg, who lifted themselves off the bottom spot with a spectacular 2-1 win against fourth-placed Schalke 04 last week.comments