DAVID SMITH - Thursday, February 11, 2010
Freiburg youngster Daniel Williams will try to build on his promising recent performances while Michael Bradley and the Foals will hope to play the role of predator against struggling Nürnberg.
Borussia Mönchengladbach - FC Nürnberg
With the team looking relatively safe from any relegation threat, Borussia Mönchengladbach will try to inch their way towards the top half of the standings when rapidly-sinking Nürnberg pay a visit on Friday evening.
Michael Bradley has been the team's workhorse in midfield over the last four-plus months, being on the field for all but 11 minutes of the team's competitive play since late-September and recently drawing special praise from the club's sporting director Max Eberl.
The Foals have so far blown hot and cold in their four games after the winter break, book-ending their emphatic 4-3 victory over Bremen two weeks ago with a lifeless 0-0 draw in Berlin the week before and an equally glum shut-out loss in Mainz last weekend.
While a home game against reeling Nürnberg, who have managed only one win and a draw compared to six losses in their last eight outings, should present a straightforward three-point haul for the Foals, they will need to find a bit of the magic of their offensive explosion against Bremen should they hope to avoid the embarrassment of failing to win.
Starting right back Tobias Levels will be absent from Foals coach Michael Frontzeck's lineup due to yellow card accumulation, as will Bradley's central midfield partner Thorben Marx due to a thigh injury, with Marcel Meeuwis the most likely to slot in as his replacement.
Nürnberg coach Dieter Hecking will be encouraged by having all of his regulars healthy, but it may not be enough for a team which has managed only four wins all season and looks to be an odds-on favorite to drop to the 2. Bundesliga at season's end.
Eintracht Frankfurt - SC Freiburg
Freiburg right back Daniel Williams will likely get the starting nod for the fourth straight week as the team looks to distance themselves from the drop zone on their trip to Frankfurt on Sunday evening.
Williams put in a notable performance the previous weekend in helping Freiburg squeeze out an encouraging scoreless draw with title-challengers Schalke, a much-needed point for the team to put a halt to a devastating four-game losing streak.
They are still not out of the woods with only two points separating them from the 16th-place relegation playoff spot, and will need to somehow pull out another result in Frankfurt.
The best sign for last year's 2. Bundesliga champions may lie in their record away from their home stadium, as four of their five wins this season have come on the road, coincidentally the same number of victories which their opponents Frankfurt have earned in their own Commerzbank-Arena.
The hosts themselves will be trying to maintain a relatively strong run over the last two months of the season, where they have lost only once and currently occupy seventh - within reach of a Europa League place.
Frankfurt has a sizable injury list, with defender Aleksandar Vasoski still out recovering from a knee operation, midfielders Zlatan Bajramovic and Pirmin Schwegler sidelined with respective Achilles and ankle injuries, and forwards Ioannis Amanatidis, Martin Fenin and Ümit Korkmaz also set to miss with various injuries.
In addition, winter signing Ricardo Clark will still have to wait several weeks longer to make his Bundesliga debut as the American is still recovering from a calf injury.
Freiburg coach Robin Dutt has most of his main squad healthy, with defender Pavel Krmas still out with a calf injury sustained late last year.
Steve Cherundolo is still out with a shoulder injury and will miss Hannover's home game against Werder Bremen on Saturday.
Jared Jeffrey is not expected to suit up for Mainz when they head to the hauptstadt with hopes of taking all three points from last-place Hertha.
Jermaine Jones is still recovering from a broken leg and will not dress up for Schalke when they host Cologne on Sunday.
Matt Taylor will hope to make the bench for FSV Frankfurt when they head to Hamburg to take on second-place St. Pauli on Friday afternoon.
David Yelldell is still recovering from a MCL injury and will not suit up for Koblenz on Sunday when they host Rostock.
Luis Robles will watch from Kaiserslautern's bench when they try to hold on to first place during their trip to Duisburg on Monday evening.