BERLIN Bayern Munich's sensational domestic season shows no signs of abating and, with a string of players back from injury and illness for Saturday's Bavarian derby at Nuremberg (1430 GMT), the team are deservedly eyeing their 11th league win in 12 games.
Bayern midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos did not travel with Germany for their friendly match against Netherlands on Wednesday due to illness but were back on the training pitch that same day.
Striker Mario Gomez, out of action since undergoing ankle surgery in August, has also returned to team training and his four goals against a regional division team on Tuesday showed he was itching for senior-team action.
Despite stiff competition from Bundesliga top scorer Mario Mandzukic and Claudio Pizarro, fresh from a Champions League hat-trick, Bayern sports director Matthias Sammer hinted that Gomez could be back in action against Nuremberg.
"Obviously Mario needs some time to find his old form but he is healthy and could also help us in the short term," Sammer told the club website (www.fcbayern.de) on Thursday.
Sammer, who replaced Christian Nerlinger in July, has the chance of ending a two-year title drought for the Bavarians who have conceded only four goals while scoring 32, the best offensive and defensive record in the league.
Despite being seven points ahead of Schalke 04 and 11 ahead of fourth-placed champions Borussia Dortmund, Bayern are keeping a cool head, aware that a similar situation last season ended up with them winning no silverware.
"There is room for improvement," Sammer said. "When we lack that freshness in our game then we have to make sure we are letting nothing happen in the back. We are expecting a very hard game in Nuremberg."
Nuremberg, hovering above the drop zone in 15th place, have had one win in their last eight league games and face yet another prolonged relegation battle.
"We know there are three points up for grabs," said Nuremberg midfielder Timo Gebhart.
"We are aware they are the best team in the league but you never know, maybe there is something there for us at home."
Schalke, second on 23 points, will be looking to beat hosts Bayer Leverkusen (1730), in fifth place, and keep them at bay while Dortmund, on 19 and looking for their first back-to-back league wins this season, host relegation-threatened Greuther Fuerth (1430). (Editing by Clare Fallon)