Bundesliga preview: Bender wants Leverkusen to hold on to second place
Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender has warned Borussia Dortmund his side are determined to hold on to second place.
Last Updated: 01/02/13 10:06am
Leverkusen currently lie a point clear of defending champions Dortmund, with both sides well adrift of runaway leaders Bayern Munich.
Bender told the club's official website: "We want to hold on to second spot, which we've fought hard for, and obviously not give it up without a fight.
"We want to establish ourselves at the top of the league so the (3-1) win against Eintracht Frankfurt in the opening game after the winter break was very important.
"It's a pity we didn't win at Freiburg (the match ended 0-0) especially with the chances we had in the second half.
"But we can be satisfied with a point. Obviously, we want to build on that against Dortmund. And we can into the game in confident mood - we're still unbeaten at home at the end of the day. I don't think any opponent looks forward to coming here."
Bayern, who had an 11-point lead at the top, are also braced for a tough match on Saturday at fifth-placed Mainz.
Jupp Heynckes' men have lost only once this season, but their opponents are just three points off the top four and are mounting a surprise bid for Champions League qualification.
"It will not be an easy game," defender Daniel van Buyten told the club website, the Belgian adding that despite their impressive form they still want to improve.
"In the first round of the season we did very well," he added. "But we want to try to improve that yet."
Schalke, another side with top-four ambitions, host bottom side Greuther Furth on Saturday with new signing Michel Bastos keen to make his debut.
The Brazilian, who has joined the Royal Blues on an 18-month loan deal from Lyon, said: "I can hardly wait to make my first appearance for Schalke.
"I've already played a lot of games for Lyon this season. I'm definitely fit and able to play. Whether I play or not is down to the coach, though."
Struggling Hoffenheim have been boosted ahead of their match at home to Freiburg by the signing of goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season.
Elsewhere on Saturday, fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt head to Hamburg, Fortuna Dusseldorf host Stuttgart and Wolfsburg welcome Augsburg.
Werder Bremen host Hannover on Friday, while Sunday's other game sees Nurnburg take on Borussia Monchengladbach.