Stuttgart next to face Dortmund juggernaut

BERLIN - VfB Stuttgart will be out to spoil sparkling Borussia Dortmund's title charge when they travel to the league leaders on Saturday even though their own ambitions are limited to just avoiding the drop.

Stuttgart got their first league win under new coach Bruno Labbadia against Mainz 05 last week and the 2007 champions are hopeful they can salvage a disastrous season that has seen them slump to 17th place, just two points off the bottom.

"We are not dead yet," Stuttgart striker Martin Harnik told reporters.

"We have a lot of power inside us and this must explode now. We have to win a lot of matches to get out of our situation."

Labbadia, Stuttgart's third coach this season, has quickly instilled a sense of determination that was lacking in the first half of the campaign when they conceded two goals or more goals in 12 of their 17 games until the winter break.

Their task against Dortmund, however, could not be more daunting with the hosts in spectacular form and already 12 points clear at the top with no signs of letting up.

Dortmund have also scored 42 goals and conceded just 11, giving them the league's best offence and defence.

"We are going to try and get the best possible result which in our case means points," Stuttgart sports director Fredi Bobic added.

"Even if it means doing it against Dortmund, who on paper are better and are in a class of their own at the moment."

Dortmund have won 15 of their 18 games and are on course for their seventh league title and a first since 2002.

FIERY ATMOSPHERE

With yet another 80,000 sold-out crowd expected in the Westfalen stadium, Dortmund will have the edge over Stuttgart before a ball is even kicked.

"It will be fantastic atmosphere, a sold-out stadium and our fans doing their thing. We are really looking forward to it," said attacking midfielder Kevin Grosskreutz, who scored twice and set up the other goal in last week's 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen.

"Whoever has experienced the atmosphere here knows that it is a unique one for Germany."

Dortmund's seemingly unstoppable march towards the title has overshadowed the performances of several other potential title contenders, including Bayern Munich, who have slowly but surely climbed up the table.

A win against Kaiserslautern on Saturday could lift them to third place, their highest position since the start of the season.

They will be without winger Franck Ribery, who picked up a minor muscle injury last week, forcing Arjen Robben, who has returned to action after six months out injured, to provide Bayern's wide threat on his own.

Second-placed Hanover 96, enjoying their best Bundesliga season, host Schalke 04 while Mainz, in third, entertain VfL Wolfsburg, where coach Steve McClaren is under pressure after a string of bad results has seen the 2009 champions slide to 14th.