IT'S set to be a bumper week of Bundesliga action – and a pivotal few days in the title race.
The weekend's schedule gets underway tonight with Hertha vs Union in the Berlin derby, before Dortmund and Bayern feature in a packed Super Saturday fixture list.
Follow all the latest updates, build-up and gossip from Germany's top-flight below…
Bayern are chasing a record-extending eighth consecutive Bundesliga title and are four points ahead of second-placed Borussia Dortmund.
They played their first game behind closed doors, beating Union Berlin 2-0 and now face Frankfurt.
Flick added: “Everyone of us has now played at least one time in front of empty stands.
“We know what to expect. Before our game last week we had also trained at the Allianz Arena (and not at the training centre) so we know what to expect in terms of atmosphere.”
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Bayern Munich players must work harder to motivate each other to maintain a winning mentality while playing in empty stadiums, coach Hansi Flick said on Friday.
The Bundesliga became the first major sports league to restart last week after more than two months following an easing of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in Germany, but games are played without fans for health safety reasons.
Flick said ahead of the Bundesliga leaders’ match with Eintracht Frankfurt: “What is decisive is mentality.
“Obviously it is an advantage if you have higher quality on the pitch but this is a situation which is not very easy.
“It is key that you bring that mentality to the pitch. It is important that the team pushes itself so as to cover the level of motivation that has gone missing with the empty stands.”
Stock up on your best Pilsner and dig out that ill-fitting lederhosen – the Bundesliga is back for more.
What a five days it's set to be in Germany's top flight, which returned last week following a Covid-19 suspension of over two months.
The resumption was widely regarded to be a success, despite games being played in ghostly atmospheres with masked subs strewn around the stadium like confetti.
On the field though, some things remained extremely familiar. For a start, Erlin Haaland scored.
Water is wet, right? The Dortmund wonderkid was at it again as he notched the opening in an almost embarrassingly one-sided Revierderby against an out-of-sorts Schalke.
That three points keeps BVB well in the title hunt, despite Bayern Munich bagging an easy victory over Union Berlin a day later.
Those two are locked in a Titanic tussle for the crown, with Monchengladbach waiting patiently in the rear for a late, unlikely charge.
Bayern and Dortmund both play tomorrow, before meeting for a potential title decider on Tuesday.
Tonight, our attention is solely on the capital as Hertha and Union face-off in the imposing Olympiastadion.
It's certainly set to be a derby with a difference and the winners of tonight's game in Berlin could potentially be dreaming of a late European push. Maybe.
Anyway, we've absolutely loads to get through before kick-off, as well as updates and team news ahead of a packed weekend schedule.
In these strange times, it's nice to have some Friday night football and a bit of normality for you. Well, as normal as it gets in the Bundesliga anyway – let's get things on the road.
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