Football: Dortmund need to beat Hanover to prove credentials

BERLIN, March 31, 2011 (AFP) - Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund face another test of their credentials as champions-in-waiting when they host third-placed Hanover at home on Saturday.

Dortmund's lead at the top of the table was cut to seven points a fortnight ago when they drew 1-1 with Mainz, while second-placed Bayer Leverkusen stole a march with a 2-0 win over Champions League quarter-finalists Shalke 04.

Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp is sweating on the fitness of key players defender Neven Subotic and midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski as the Bundesliga resumes after the international break.

Subotic suffered a badly cut foot playing for Serbia in their 2-1 win against Northern Ireland in midweek.

"So far, he can't even put a shoe on the foot," said Klopp.

But Subotic has been working hard on his fitness in the gym and is hoping to take part.

"I am confident I can play," said the 22-year-old Subotic.

Blaszczykowski, known more simply as Kuba, has a bruised thigh and has also sat out training.

"Our Doctor has said the injury is not so bad, if he can train Friday he will be available Saturday," said Klopp.

With defending champions Bayern Munich fourth in the table and two points behind, Hanover are on course to qualify for a Champions League place next season.

Dortmund police have said Saturday's game will go ahead, despite discovering three packages, suspected to contain explosives, in a car park near the Signal Iduna Park stadium on Thursday.

A man was later arrested at a hotel in the western city of Cologne.

Leverkusen are at strugglers Kaiserslautern on Saturday chasing both the German title and an automatic Champions League place next season.

Coach Jupp Heynckes will leave at the end of the season for his third stint in charge of Bayern Munich.

Bayern are at home to bottom side Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday with striker Mario Gomez set to add to the 19 league goals he has netted so far this season.

Germany midfielder Toni Kroos has extended his contract at the Bavarian giants until 2015, joining national team-mates Bastian Schweinsteiger, Thomas Mueller, Philipp Lahm and Holger Badstuber on long-term contracts.

Werder Bremen host VfB Stuttgart on Saturday and both former champions are hovering just above the relegation zone and need points to pull away from the bottom three.

Second-from-bottom Wolfsburg, under new coach Felix Magath, take on Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Controversial coach Christoph Daum has been appointed as Frankfurt coach, having succeeded Michael Skibbe, 11 years after the former admitted using cocaine.

Daum has coached Cologne, Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart and Turkish side Fenerbahce.


Friday

St. Pauli v Schalke 04


Saturday

Bayern Munich v Borussia M'gladbach

Werder Bremen v VfB Stuttgart

Borussia Dortmund v Hanover 96

Mainz 05 v Freiburg

Kaiserslautern v Bayer Leverkusen

Hoffenheim v Hamburg


Sunday

Cologne v Nuremberg

VfL Wolfsburg v Eintracht Frankfurt

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