DAVID SMITH - Friday, April 24, 2009
Michael Bradley faces his most important survival test of the season while David Yelldell will look to continue Koblenz's hot streak.
Borussia Mönchengladbach - Arminia Bielefeld
With their season down to its final six games, Michael Bradley and the Foals face perhaps their most important test for survival when they square off against Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday afternoon, in a game which will see a potential winner pulling temporarily safe from the drop zone.
Despite finding themselves mired in a four-game winless streak in which they have only scored a pair of goals and taken a single point, Bradley and his Gladbach teammates are still within reach of a repeat campaign in Germany's top tier thanks to their relatively strong play through February and March.
With both the Foals and Bielefeld fighting for their own skins, a win on Sunday will not only give the Foals the vital three points, but also much-needed momentum as they embark on a tough end to the season that has them squaring off against usual heavyweights Bayern, Schalke and Dortmund during their last five weeks.
Mönchengladbach coach Hans Meyer will count himself lucky to be facing this vital six-pointer with his most important pieces all in place, having defender Steve Gohouri as the only regular contributor to be out due to an ankle injury.
Likewise, Bielefeld as a healthy squad on their trip to the Foals' Borussia-Park, with Danish striker Jonas Kamper still out with an abductor injury.
TuS Koblenz - Alemannia Aachen[b]
With a comfortable six points separating them from any relegation harm, David Yelldell and TuS Koblenz teammates will be looking to put all but assure their survival as well as douse Alemannia Aachen's slim hopes for promotion on Sunday afternoon.
Koblenz have looked like an entirely different throughout the spring than the one which stumbled to last place during the first half of the season.
Their impressive record of six wins out of their last nine games has not only pulled them seemingly safe of the drop, but has also surprisingly led them to the third highest point total in the league for the spring, trailing only league leaders Freiburg and Nürnberg.
After picking up their second straight win in dramatic fashion last weekend in Duisburg, they will try to add a third when they play host to sixth-place Alemannia Aachen, who are still holding slim hopes for a shot at the promotion playoff spot, from which they are only three points back.
The hosts will be missing a trio of strikers, with winter purchase Darko Maletic and Tayfun Pektürk suffering thigh problems and Ardijan Djokaj out with a calf injury.
Midfielder Goran Sukalo is also not yet expected to return from his own thigh injury which has kept him off the field for the last two games.
Aachen comes into Koblenz's Oberwerth Stadium with no major injury concerns or suspensions. Striker Markus Daun and defender Thomas Stehle, neither of which has been on the field for quite awhile, are both still in rehab from early-season injuries and will not feature.
Steve Cherundolo is out with likely season-ending hip surgery however Sal Zizzo may find his way onto Hannover's bench when they host FC Cologne on Saturday.
Grover Gibson has returned from injury and suspension and could feature on Rot-Weiss Ahlen's bench when they host MSV Duisburg on Friday.
Luis Robles is still working his way back from an ankle injury and will not dress for Kasierslautern's showdown with last-place SV Wehen Wiesbaden on Sunday.
Bryan Arguez will not dress for the first team when Hertha Berlin pay a visit to Hoffenheim on Friday night.
Heath Pearce was demoted to Rostock's Regionalliga squad and will be nowhere near Osnabrück on Monday night.