Stuttgart have won three successive matches to move into third spot in the table, while Bayer Leverkusen remained top despite drawing at home to Borussia Dortmund last weekend.
After only surviving relegation by beating second tier side Hamburger SV across a two-legged playoff at the end of last season, nobody could have foreseen Stuttgart challenging for a Champions League qualification spot this time around.
However, that is exactly the position they find themselves in having hugely improved under Sebastian Hoeness's management. The former Hoffenheim boss has won 19 of his 28 matches in charge since being appointed as Stuttgart's manager in early April, having initially guided them outside of the automatic relegation zone.
No such fears exist for them this season. In fact, if they can upset the odds by inflicting Leverkusen's first defeat of the campaign on Sunday, Stuttgart will match their points total from last season in 20 fewer matches; that paints a remarkable picture of their astonishing improvement in recent months.
Having proven far too strong for Werder Bremen in a comfortable 2-0 victory last weekend, Die Schwaben booked their place in the quarter-finals of the DFB-Pokal by beating Dortmund by the same scoreline on Wednesday evening. Serhou Guirassy bagged his 17th goal of the season for his club, before Silas sealed victory late on after coming off the bench.
As such, the 2006-07 Bundesliga champions are dreaming of securing their first piece of major silverware since that triumphant season more than 16 years ago. With successive matches against the division's top two teams to come, we may be about to find out how strong this Stuttgart team really is.
Indeed, Leverkusen have even greater ambitions under Xabi Alonso this season, having remained unbeaten in all 21 of the matches they have played in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal, and Europa League.
However, their hopes of lifting the Bundesliga for the first time in the club's history suffered a slight setback by drawing 1-1 at home to Dortmund last weekend. Julian Ryerson handed the visitors the lead after nine minutes, but Florian Wirtz appeared to have drawn his side level with a sensational strike just before half time, only for the goal to be disallowed due to Victor Boniface being offside in the build-up.
The Nigeria striker rescued a point for his side by coolly finishing from close range with 11 minutes of normal time remaining, but neither side could find a winner during a fiery end to the match. Although Leverkusen actually stretched their lead at the summit to three points due to Bayern Munich's game against Union Berlin being postponed, the Bavarians will move above Alonso's side on goal difference if they defeat Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Die Werkself remain on course to challenge for two cup competitions, though, after dispatching second division side SC Paderborn 3-1 at BayArena on Wednesday. Boniface got himself on the scoresheet once again before Exequiel Palacios doubled the hosts' lead before the break, with Patrik Schick securing his side's progression to the last eight after Sebastian Klaas had pulled one back.
Having worked so hard to remain unbeaten across the opening four months of the season, Alonso and his players will recognise that Sunday's trip to Stuttgart may prove to be the biggest threat to their record. While a draw would not be a bad result considering their forthcoming opponents' electric form, returning to winning ways may be required if they are to avoid handing the initiative to Bayern in terms of the title picture.
Stuttgart are likely to be without Nicolas Nartey, Roberto Massimo, Lilian Egloff and Hiroki Ito due to injury on Sunday. Hoeness made two changes for his side's victory against Dortmund in the cup in midweek, so he is likely to reintroduce Silas and Pascal Stenzel to his starting XI for league matters.
In-form strikers Guirassy and former Brighton & Hove Albion man Deniz Undav should continue as a front pairing in attack, having both scored in last weekend's victory against Werder Bremen.
Leverkusen, meanwhile, will travel without Arthur due to an ongoing thigh injury. Wirtz appeared to suffer an ankle injury against Paderborn, leading to him being withdrawn during first-half injury time, making the 20-year-old a major doubt for the trip to Stuttgart.
Alonso made five changes for his side's comfortable win in the DFB-Pokal, including his entire back three and goalkeeper. As such, Lukas Hradecky, Jonathan Tah, Edmond Tapsoba and Odilon Kossounou will all expect to be recalled.
Stuttgart possible starting lineup:
Nubel; Stenzel, Anton, Zagadou, Mittelstadt; Millot, Karazor; Silas, Fuhrich; Undav, Guirassy
Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba; Frimpong, Palacios, Xhaka, Grimaldo; Hofmann, Adli; Boniface
We say: Stuttgart 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen
With only the reigning champions Bayern scoring more goals than these two sides in the Bundesliga so far this season, it would be a major surprise if those in attendance at MHPArena and watching on from home are not treated to plenty of goals on Sunday.
Wirtz's potential absence through injury would be a major blow for Leverkusen, who may need to avoid defeat to return to the top of the table. Stuttgart are yet to draw a league game this season, but we can envisage them sharing the spoils for the first time this weekend.
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