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'Thank God it's Friday' as Dortmund eye top spot

Borussia Dortmund's coach Juergen Klopp reacts during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match against Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen
Borussia Dortmund's coach Juergen Klopp reacts during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match against Schalke 04 in Gelsenkirchen

By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - If statistics are anything to go by then Borussia Dortmund are set to reclaim the Bundesliga top spot from Bayern Munich when they take on VfB Stuttgart on Friday.

Last season's runners-up have not lost a home game on a Friday in nine years and given their current form, second-placed Dortmund have every right to eye a return to the top with leaders Bayern not in action until Saturday.

With just one defeat in 10 league games so far, Dortmund (25 points) have quickly found their stride this season as they again challenge the Bavarians for domestic bragging rights.

But coach Juergen Klopp warned against any complacency as they had not beaten Stuttgart in their last four home games.

"It will not be an easy game," Klopp told reporters. "We have to be prepared for everything against Stuttgart. It will be tough.

"They have a lot of quality and are having a good run at the moment and when they switch to attack they can be really tricky to handle."

Klopp, who this week extended his contract by two years to 2018, committing his immediate future to a club he led to consecutive titles from 2011, could have captain Sebastian Kehl back in the squad after the player returned to training on Wednesday following a lengthy injury absence.

FINE EXPECTED

"What that means for Friday, I still do not know," Klopp added. "We have to see how he reacts but I am just very happy that he is back."

Klopp will, however, be without midfielder Ilkay Guendogan and defender Luasz Piszczek, who are still recovering from injuries and will not be fit enough to play on Friday.

Dortmund will also have one eye on the stands after their own fans hurled flares onto the pitch and into rival Schalke 04 enclosures in their 3-1 derby win last week and the club now face a likely fine.

Stuttgart have gone on a seven-game unbeaten run since coach Thomas Schneider replaced Bruno Labbadia early in the season, climbing back into European contention in eighth place. They have, however, drawn their last three matches.

In-form forward Vedad Ibisevic has not scored more goals against any other Bundesliga team than Dortmund with six but Schneider is likely to be without injured defender Daniel Schwaab.

"We have to be quick on our feet, act quickly and move the ball," Schneider said. "The way we change from defense to going forward will be the key to this game.

"We do not have to apologize to anyone for our last three straight draws," he said.

Bayern, top of the standings on 26 points, travel to improving Hoffenheim while third-placed Bayer Leverkusen, level on 25 points with Dortmund, meet bottom side Eintracht Braunschweig.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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