PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Tim Chandler will hope to continue his solid run of play for Nuremberg, while Matt Taylor and Preußen Münster head to Wiesbaden.
Hertha Berlin - 1. FC Nuremberg
Following their first win of the season, Tim Chandler and Nuremberg can climb into at least the relegation-playoff spot with some help and a win at Berlin on Sunday.
Chandler has thrived under coach Gertjan Verbeek, who took over on October 22. He's made kicker's team of Team of the Week for his performances in the last two matches, which included a goal in Der Club's 4-0 win over Hoffenheim last Saturday. That win put Nuremberg just two points behind Hamburg in 16th place and just three behind Freiburg for 15th place.
Hertha, meanwhile, is pushing for Europe, just two points behind Wolfsburg for the last Europa League position and five points back of Mönchengladbach for the last Champions League spot. The Old Lady had a three-match winning streak snapped on its return from the winter break and will be looking to bounce back.
Per Nilsson, Emanuel Pogatetz and Makoto Hasebe will miss for Nuremberg with knee injuries, while Hanno Balitsch and Niklas Stark are out because of a toe injury and an abductor injury. American defender John Anthony Brooks is rehabilitating from a knee injury and will likely miss the match for Berlin, while Tolga Cigerci tore his Achilles tendon and is out.
Stuttgarter Kickers - SV Elversberg
In a relegation six-pointer, Royal-Dominique Fennell and the Stuttgarter Kickers square off with Elversberg in 3.Liga action on Saturday.
The Kickers climbed out the relegation zone right before the winter break and managed to stay out with a scoreless draw against Kiel last weekend. Still, they are only one point out of the drop zone, and with 10 teams from ninth to 18th place separated by just four points, every point is crucial.
Elversberg had been a free fall before a 3-1 win over last-place Saarbrücken last weekend, having lost its four previous matches. That stretch had seen the promoted team sit just about the relegation zone, and the win pushed it from 17th place to 14th.
The Kickers will be without Marc Stein because of a knee injury, Gerrit Müller because of a sprained ankle, Marcos Alvarez because of damaged cartilage and Daniel Engelbrecht because of a heart condition. Elversberg, meanwhile, will not have Muhittin Bastürk available because of a knee injury.
Preußen Münster - SV Wehen Wiesbaden
Matt Taylor and Münster put their seven-match unbeaten run on the line when they host Wiesbaden on Saturday.
For the final 16 matches of the season, Taylor and the Eagles are in a unique situation. Sitting eight points back of Darmstadt in third, they can end the season fighting for promotion in a playoff, but they also can finish in a relegation spot, as the Eagles are just three points above the relegation zone. Therefore, all points are needed for Münster to accomplish anything this season.
Wiesbaden may not be safe yet, but the team is sitting in a good spot. Despite boasting a -3 goal differential, Wiesbaden has 31 points, just five away from the promotion-playoff position.
The Eagles will not have Patrick Kirsch available with a thigh injury, while Wiesbaden will be without Martin Röser because of an Achilles tendon injury.
Fabian Johnson should miss Hoffenheim's matchup with Hamburg on Saturday with a broken right hand.
Captain Steve Cherundolo is questionable for Hannover with knee problems when die Roten host Mönchengladbach on Saturday.