PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Heading into the Bundesliga's final weeks, Jermaine Jones and Schalke will try to solidify a Champion League spot, while Fabian Johnson, Daniel Williams and Hoffenheim search for a chance at safety.
Borussia Mönchengladbach - FC Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones and Schalke look to cement their hold on fourth place when they travel to Mönchengladbach on Friday.
The Royal Blues have seemed to right the ship after a worrying stretch of matches left them out of the European picture entirely. Now, with three matches remaining, Schalke holds a three-point lead in the race for the final Champions League spot in Germany.
Last season's fourth-place finisher, Mönchengladbach hasn't seen the same success this season, but the Foals are in the running for the Europa League and still have a chance to overtake Schalke for the Champions League qualification position.
Schalke will be without defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos because of a knee injury and Jefferson Obasi because of a thigh injury. Mönchengladbach is not reporting any injuries.
Werder Bremen - TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
Coming into the match with some momentum, Fabian Johnson, Daniel Williams and Hoffenheim take on a slumping Bremen team on Saturday.
Johnson should start on the left side of the formation for Hoffenheim, while Williams, who missed the past few weeks with an ankle injury, should be available on the bench.
Since Markus Gisdol took over four matches ago, Hoffenheim has seemed to turn things around for a team that looked destined for direct relegation for most of the season. While still in the direct-relegation zone, Hoffenheim has recorded seven points in its last four matches and is four points out of the playoff position.
Bremen, meanwhile, has found itself in the relegation battle out of nowhere, thanks to a 10-match winless streak. Now, the team is just two points above the relegation playoff spot and five points ahead of Hoffenheim.
Hoffenheim will be without goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes with a broken hand, Eren Derdiyok with a groin injury and Eugan Polanski because of a red-card suspension. Bremen will be without Mehmet Ekici because of abductor problems and Marco Arnautovic and Eljero Elia due to a suspension for off-the-field activities.
Hertha Berlin - Erzgebirge Aue
John Anthony Brooks, Alfredo Morales and Hertha continue their promotion-celebration tour in the 2.Bundesliga against Aue on Friday.
The Old Lady clinched its spot in the Bundesliga next season with five matches to go, leaving the team little to play for outside of the 2.Bundesliga's top spot. With three matches to go, Berlin holds a four-point advantage over Braunschweig for that prize.
On the other end of the Bundesliga standings, Aue sits just above the drop zone, but it only holds a three-point lead over Dresden in the relegation playoff position. Any points will help Aue breathe a sigh of relief.
Captain Peter Niemeyer is out for Hertha as he continues to recover from concussion symptoms, and Maik Franz and Marcel Ndjeng join Niemeyer on Hertha's unavailable list because of yellow card accumulation. Tobias Nickenig will miss for Aue because of a red-card suspension.
SV Sandhausen - FC Ingolstadt 04
Already relegated into the 3.Liga, Andrew Wooten and Sandhausen take on Ingolstadt on Saturday.
Sandhausen picked a wrong time to fall apart, picking up two points in its last seven matches. Combined with Dresden's three wins in its last eight matches put even the relegation playoff out of reach for Wooten and Co.
Ingolstadt, meanwhile, can eliminate itself from relegation with a win against Sandhausen, although a Dynamo Dresden loss or tie this weekend will also clinch another season in the 2.Bundesliga for Ingolstadt.
Goalkeeper Daniel Ischdonat with an ankle injury, Frank Löning with a knee injury, Jutae Yun with a shoulder injury and Alexander Riemann with a muscle injury are unavailable for Sandhausen. Ingolstadt is not reporting any injuries.
Preußen Münster - Stuttgarter Kickers
Matt Taylor will look to continue his goal-scoring tear to help Münster keep pace in the 3.Liga promotion battle against the Stuttgarter Kickers on Saturday.
Taylor went three months without scoring a single goal, but in the past two matches, he's put three into the back of the net. These goals have helped the Eagles keep pace in the promotion race, as they hold third place and the promotion playoff position. Münster is one point out of direct promotion and two points ahead of fourth place.
The Stuttgarter Kickers are barely holding onto a place of safety in the 3.Liga. They hold a one-point cushion over Babelsberg with three matches to go in the season.
Münster will be without Kevin Schöneberg and Patrick Kirsch because of a shin contusion and yellow card accumulation, while the Kickers will be without American Royal-Dominique Fennell with a groin injury, Simon Köpf with headaches and Thorben Stadler because of a tooth operation.
On the verge of breaking the club's all-time record for Bundesliga appearances, Steve Cherundolo might have to wait another week, as he will probably start on the bench for Hannover against Mainz on Saturday.
Tim Chandler might be relegated to the bench when Nuremberg hosts Leverkusen on Saturday.
Michael Parkhurst could be available for Augsburg when the team continues its relegation fight at Freiburg on Sunday.
Joe Gyau should be a bench option for St. Pauli at Duisburg on Sunday.
Bobby Wood should be on the bench for 1860 Munich when the Lions host Union Berlin on Sunday.
Jerome Kiesewetter will hope to get on the playing field for Stuttgart II against Bielefeld on Friday.
Preston Zimmerman will miss Darmstadt's crucial match against Karlsruhe on Sunday due to yellow card accumulation.