Bayern Munich has found itself in a new role chasing Bundesliga leader Borussia Dortmund but is beginning to find its stride going into a tough test against RB Leipzig tomorrow.
Bayern is nine points adrift going into the coming midweek round and that gap could be increased to 12, if only temporarily, when Dortmund travels to Fortuna Dusseldorf today.
Dortmund has won six league games in a row to build its advantage over third-place Bayern and Borussia Moenchengladbach, who are second on goal difference.
But after an inconsistent spell, Bayern has rediscovered the winning touch with three successive league wins culminating in Saturday's 4-0 romp at Hanover, which coach Niko Kovac called "one of our best displays this season."
Leipzig, just two points behind Bayern in fourth, will present a much tougher challenge than now-bottom Hanover but confidence is increasing in Munich.
"I'm increasingly aware we're slowly but surely turning the tide," said Kovac. "We played well in the last few matches. "The way everybody played (against Hanover), both in possession and without the ball, was very good. That's the ambition we have, and we must live up to it again and again."
Kovac has limited squad rotation in recent games, though he did make changes in Hanover, and this policy seems to have helped them find form again.
"It's just fun to play in this team," said David Alaba.
Gladbach can cut the deficit to Dortmund to six points, if only briefly, with an early Tuesday fixture at home to second-last Nuremberg.