DAVID SMITH - Saturday, April 7, 2012
Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg face a crucial six-pointer at Freiburg while Steve Cherundolo will hope Hannover can recover against fellow Europa League quarterfinalists Schalke.
SC Freiburg - FC Nürnberg
With their four-game losing streak pushing the team to the brink of the bottom three, Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg desperately need to take all three points in Freiburg on Saturday to give breathing room heading into the season's final weeks.
Four spots in the standings separate "Der Club" from the bottom-three relegation places, however with the other teams immediately below all showing signs of life in recent weeks, failure to stop their streak could see them quickly pulled into the quagmire.
While Freiburg is technically trailing Nürnberg by goal differential, they are currently one of the hottest teams in the division, with a five-game unbeaten streak that includes wins over Europe-bound teams Schalke and Leverkusen.
The southwestern-most team in Germany took all three points in the first game in Nürnberg last year, and a victory at home on Saturday could very well assure their survival in the league.
Nürnberg are without suspended central defender Philipp Wollscheid, midfielder Adam Hlousek who is out for the season with an ACL tear, along with strikers Alexander Esswein and Christian Eigler will miss out due to injury.
Freiburg are missing midfielders Anton Putsila and Jan Rosenthal, both with leg injuries.
FC Kaiserslautern - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Daniel Williams and Fabian Johnson will be confident that Hoffeneheim will earn a positive result when they visit a Kaiserslautern team that has failed to win since October and is already resigned to relegation.
Andrew Wooten will be included in Kaiserslautern's gameday roster, and could very well take part in the game as a substitute.
Hoffenheim have taken points off of two Champions League-bound opponents in their last two games, holding Schalke to a draw last weekend and beating 'Gladbach on the road one week before.
This puts them directly in the middle of the standings, with six point separating them from both European qualification and relegation, with neither likely a looming possibility over the final six games of the season.
Kaiserslautern, on the other hand, are almost assured of a return to the 2. Bundesliga, having not won since October and facing an eight-point gap to even reach the relegation playoff spot.
Kaiserslautern's attack will be hampered with the absences of strikers Dorge Rostand Kouemaha, Itay Schlechter and Sandro Wagner, along with midfielder Olcay Sahan, all due to injuries.
For Hoffenheim, only midfielder Sebastian Rudy is missing after picking up his fifth yellow card last weekend.
FC Schalke 04 - Hannover 96
Both Steve Cherundolo and Jermaine Jones will hope that their respective teams will be over their Thursday-night Europa League disappointment when they meet in Schalke's Veltins Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Cherundolo will be starting at right back for the visitors, however Jones will watch from the stands after picking up his tenth yellow card of the season last weekend.
Schalke and Hannover were both dumped out of the Europa league three days before, although the result was likely more of a disappointment for Cherundolo and his fellow Reds.
They were narrowly beaten by a defense-minded Atletico Madrid team, having twice been within a goal of either forcing overtime or winning outright.
Both teams can now solely focus on their league campaigns, with Schalke hoping ot hold onto their third-place position which would mean automatic qualification to the group stage, and Hannover also hoping to maintain their fifth-place spot that would put them directly back in the Europa League group stage.
The teams drew even in Hannover last fall, however the three points will serve the visitors much more as they have no less than four teams nipping at their heels one point directly behind.
In addition to Jones, Schalke are missing backup keepers Ralf Fährmann and Timo Hildebrand, along with suspended midfielder Joel Matip.
Hannover are only without midfielder Lars Stindl, who is sidelined with an adductor problem.
Chemnitzer FC - SV Darmstadt 98
Preston Zimmerman should maintain his spot in Darmstadt's starting lineup on Sunday when the team heads to the eastern corner of the country to take on Chemnitzer FC.
Chemnitz are a roll as they storm towards promotion to the 2. Bundesliga, winning their last five on the bounce and suffering no defeats since mid-November.
This could spell trouble for Darmstadt, who although have lost only once in the last seven tries, have only managed to draw their last three. Nevertheless, the Lillies are still in a relatively good position to maintain their 3. Liga standing next season.
Chemnitz are without suspended players Silvio Bankert and Marcel Schlosser, along with striker Benjamin Förster, who has a back injury.
Darmstadt are only missing defender Julian Ratei, who is sick.
Alfredo Morales could be a bench option for Hertha when they try to take a step away from the drop zone on their trip to Champions League-bound Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday.
David Yelldell will likely be on Leverkusen's bench as backup keeper on Saturday as they attempt to push hosts Hamburger SV closer to their first-ever relegation.
Villyan Bijev made his 2. Bundesliga debut on Thursday night, coming in as a late substitute for Fortuna Düsseldorf in their 2-1 loss at Hansa Rostock.
Luis Robles will not likely be in uniform on Sunday when Karlsruher SC visits VfL Bochum.
Matt Taylor will likely see time as a substitute on Sunday when Paderborn attempt to keep their hopes of an unprecedented promotion alive as 1860 Munich come to visit. Bobby Wood has recently undergone corrective knee surgery, and will miss the rest of the season to recover.
Amaechi Igwe has fallen off the face of the earth, and is not expected to suit up on Saturday when Babelsberg hosts VfB Stuttgart II.