Curtain set to open in Bundesliga

ANKARA - The second half of German top football division Bundesliga is set to begin with leaders Bayern Munich poised to meet Wolfsburg on Friday.

The Bavarian unbeaten leaders will face their rivals in a tough away game with several regulars sidelined through injury.

"Die Bayern" captain and right back Philipp Lahm, his Brazilian backup Rafinha, Spanish defensive midfielder Javi Martinez, fellow citizen Thiago Alcantara and French star Franck Ribery are all recovering from injury.

The clash at Volkswagen Arena will kick off at 20:30 CET (1930 GMT).

Bayern Munich are 11 points ahead of runners-up Wolfsburg.

Meanwhile Borussia Dortmund - having played poorly during the first half and being in the relegation zone - are planning to make a good start to the league's second half.

Dortmund will be hosted by third-ranked Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday, with its two defensive midfielders - Sven Bender and Sebastian Kehl - missing the game because of injuries.

Moreover visitors "Die Schwarzgelben" (The Black and Yellows) may lack their ace in the forward line, as Gabonese forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is on national duty at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in BayArena, which will begin at 18:30 CET (1730 GMT).

Gelsenkirchen-based club Schalke 04 - at fifth place in the standings - will play against Hannover 96 at home on the same day.

Schalke are tussling with injuries with goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann, Cameroonian centre-back Joel Matip, Bosnian left-back Sead Kolasinac and German hot prospect Julian Draxler having major problems.

In addition, "Die Knappen" (The Miners) top scorer Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting from Cameroon is on national duty at Africa Cup of Nations at Veltins Arena, which will kick off at 15:30 CET (1430 GMT).

Fixtures for matchday 18 are as follows:

Friday:

Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich at 20:30 CET (1930 GMT)

Saturday:

Mainz 05 vs Paderborn at 15:30 CET (1430 GMT)

Schalke 04 vs Hannover 96 at 15:30 CET (1430 GMT)

Freiburg vs Eintracht Frankfurt at 15:30 CET (1430 GMT)

Stuttgart vs Borussia Monchengladbach at 15:30 CET (1430 GMT)

Hamburg vs Koln at 15:30 CET (1430 GMT)

Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund at 18:30 CET (1730 GMT)

Sunday:

Werder Bremen vs Hertha Berlin at 15:30 CET (1430 GMT)

Augsburg vs Hoffenheim at 17:30 CET (1630 GMT)

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