DAVID SMITH - Friday, September 30, 2011
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will need to be at their best if they hope to take anything from Werder Bremen while Edson Buddle and Ingolstadt may be in luck against a dismal Bochum.
FC Nürnberg - FSV Mainz 05
Timothy Chandler will be in the starting lineup for Nürnberg on Saturday when they host a struggling Mainz team.
Since getting off to the best possible start with a pair of wins in their first two Bundesliga contests, the wheels have fallen off for Mainz, and a run of five straight without a win - including four losses - has left the team facing crisis.
While last weekend's loss against reigning champions Dortmund wasn't entirely unexpected, the manner in which it happened, namely through a second-half collapse and last-second winner by Dortmund, left the team searching for answers.
Nürnberg were also forced to endure disappointment in their last outing, losing out to a surprisingly strong Borussia Mönchengladbach team merely thanks to a second-half penalty call.
They will be looking to regain some of the momentum which saw them win three of their first five games, and send the team into the upcoming international break on a high note.
In addition to the two injured goalkeepers Raphael Schäfer and Patrick Rakovsky, Nürnberg will also be without defender Per Nilsson, who is recovering from an Achilles operation, and midfielders Daniel Didavi and Mike Frantz are still working their way back to game fitness after injuries.
Further complicating matters is the long-term absence of forward Christian Eigler, who was forced out of last weekend's loss with what turned out to be a torn ligament in his ankle.
Mainz have a relatively healthy squad, missing only Hungarian forward Adam Szalai as he works back from long-term injury issues.
Hannover 96 - Werder Bremen
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will need to be rested from their long midweek trip to Ukraine if they hope to have any chance to take a positive result from their home game on Saturday against the mighty Werder Bremen.
Bremen have been on-fire as of late, winning four of their last five, and would likely be sitting atop the Bundesliga standings were it not for the astounding tear of current leaders Bayern through the league.
Nevertheless, they will represent a formidable test for a Hannover team, which will still be feeling some effects from their long trip to Ukraine, where they beat Vorskla Poltawa in Europa League play on Thursday.
Hannover's last outing in league play was a wholly unspectacular scoreless draw at still winless Augsburg, and considering Bremen's knack for ripping apart opposing defenses, they will need to avoid another uninspired attacking performance.
Most critically, Hannover are missing star striker Didier Ya Konan to an adductor injury and striker Artur Sobiech to a red card suspension. In addition, long-term absences Leon Andreasen and Carlitos are still on the sidelines.
For Bremen, the major absence is that of starting keeper Tim Wiese, who is serving the second of a three-game suspension for a red card picked up two weeks before in Nürnberg.
Otherwise, head coach Thomas Schaaf will be missing several bit players. Midfielder Tim Borowski is out with an ankle injury, while Mikael Silvestre is recovering from knee surgery.
FC Ingolstadt 04 - VfL Bochum
Edson Buddle will likely be in Ingolstadt's starting lineup on Saturday when they welcome a surprisingly bad Bochum team to the Audi Sportpark.
While splitting time between the starting eleven and the bench, Buddle has managed to pull even with teammate Moritz Hartmann as the joint leading scorer for the Schanzer.
He missed the chance to play against Bochum last season in one of Ingolstadt's more memorable performances in the spring, watching from the bench as they ripped the once-proud Bundesliga team by a 3-0 margin to put a huge dent in their promotion hopes.
As Bochum has struggled heavily in 2. Bundesliga play this season largely thanks to their particularly porous defense, Ingolstadt could be in for another big afternoon.
This will be good news for the squad of Benno Möhlmann, who have looked like lions in front of their home crowd, but have displayed the ferocity of a declawed housecat in their regular blowouts on the road.
Ingolstadt will be without Andreas Görlitz, who is still suspended, as well as midfielders Caiuby, Leonhard Haas, Manuel Hartmann and Malte Metzelder, and forward Ahmed Akiachi, all of whom are recovering from injuries.
Bochum will only be without defender Matias Concha, who is rehabbing from an injury which has kept him out for the duration of the season so far.
SV Babelsberg 03 - SV Sandhausen
Amaechi Igwe will return to Babelsberg's defense on Saturday as they try to carry the momentum of last weekend's win tenth-place SV Sandhausen visit.
Babelsberg gained only their second win of the season in their late 1-0 win over Oberhausen in the previous weekend, and with just three point separating them from the drop zone, need another strong performance to keep the pressure off.
In their previous seven winless games, Babelsberg have overall performed decently, however their knack for surrendering a needless equalizer or winner to their opponents has been their Achilles heel.
Sandhausen took a page from their book last weekend in their draw with Carl Zeiss Jena, taking an early first-half lead and having the advantage of playing a man up for more than an hour, only to allow their opponents to pull even in the second half.
Babelsberg are missing defender Florian Grossert to a pulled muscle, midfielder Christian Groß to a long-term ACL injury, along with forwards Malick Bolivard and Kovi Schulz to various injuries.
Sandhausen will be without injured starting keeper Daniel Ischdonat, flu-stricken defender Marcel Busch, the suspended midfielder Dominik Rohracker and striker Regis Dorn, who just underwent nose surgery.
SV Darmstadt 98 - Kickers Offenbach
Preston Zimmerman will hope to continue seeing playing time for Darmstadt when they host Kickers Offenbach in Sunday-afternoon action.
Darmstadt finally pulled free of a four-game winless streak which had put them on the verge of the relegation zone, clawing to a 2-1 win over Preußen Münster two weekends ago.
The result only served to give them a small three-point pad above the drop zone, and they will be hard pressed to take anything against the league's third-place team Offenbach, who have lost only once in their last seven and looking like early candidates to fight for promotion.
Zimmerman netted his first goal in a Darmstadt uniform in the win over Münster, which should secure his spot in the starting lineup for Sunday.
The only injury concern for Darmstadt is Oliver Heil, who is out with a broken elbow.
For Kickers, the list of absences is longer, with keeper Maurice Paul, defender Christian Telch, midfielders Nicolas Feldhahn, Daniel Gunkel and Jannick Sommer along with striker Thomas Rathgeber all set to miss the game through various injuries.
Fabian Johnson is injured for 1899 Hoffenhiem and recent USA call-up Daniel Williams will hope for minutes off of the bench on Saturday when the team hosts red-hot league leaders FC Bayern.
Alfredo Morales will likely not be joining Hertha Berlin's first team on Saturday when they host FC Cologne.
After making a short appearance in Schalke's midweek Europa League win, Jermaine Jones will hope to see more action on Sunday when they visit struggling Hamburger SV.
Ricardo Clark will likely not be included on the bench on Friday when Eintracht Frankfurt welcome FC Union Berlin.
After watching the entirety of Paderborn's last game from the bench, Matt Taylor will hope to see an upswing in playing time when they visit MSV Duisburg on Sunday.
Bobby Wood will likely not take the field on Sunday when 1860 Munich host Dynamo Dresden as he has been playing as of late with the second team.
Luis Robles will likely look on from the bench on Sunday when Karlsruher SC hosts division leaders SpVgg Greuther Fürth.