PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
After suffering bitter defeats last weekend, Steve Cherundolo and Michael Bradley will both hope to propel their respective teams to away wins this weekend and move further away from the relegation zone.
Mainz 05 - Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 will try to get things back on track as they travel south to face 10th place Mainz 05 on Saturday.
It has been a turbulent week for Hannover 96. After a 3-0 blowout at home to Berlin, the club fired head coach Andreas Bergmann on Tuesday and replaced him with Mirko Slomka on Wednesday. Slomka has been out of work since he left Schalke in 2008 and has been brought up in practically every discussion about vacant coaching jobs in the Bundesliga since. He has a history with 96, having been involved with the club earlier in his career.
In his first week on the job, he will have his work cut out for him as he tries to bring the Reds out of a mid-season slump. The team hasn't won in seven outings and is currently at 16th place in the standings – just one spot above automatic relegation.
Mainz 05 will be looking to get their first win of the new year as they introduce their latest addition Jan Simak to the starting line-up. The play-maker was automatically given the number 10 after being signed this past week from VfB Stuttgart, where he failed to get consistent playing time.
Hannover will be without leading scorer Didier Ya Konan, who injured his knee in the loss to Hertha BSC last weekend. They are also without defender Karim Haggui, who is with Tunisia on African Cup duty, while forward Mikael Forssell is not yet ready to play. Midfield options are also limited due to knee injuries to Sal Zizzo and Jacek Krzynowek, plus a thigh problem which continues to keep Leon Andreasen on the sidelines. Defender Christian Schulz will also miss the game after picking up his fifth yellow card.
Mainz 05 will be without American Jared Jeffrey, who has been training with the team since his signing this month. The team is also missing midfielder Filip Trojan, who is still trying to get back to full fitness after recovering from an injury that has kept him out of first-team action the entire season.
Hertha Berlin - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Michael Bradley and Borussia Mönchengladbach will face a tough test when they travel to Berlin on Saturday to face last-place but reborn Hertha Berlin.
After a disappointing outing against lowly Bochum last weekend, Gladbach heads to the German capital looking to put some distance between them and the relegation zone. The Foals had plenty of chances in the second half of last weekend's game, but just weren't able to put any of them away. The loss leaves them just four points away from the relegation play-off spot.
Hertha on the other hand has regained a little swagger after shooting down Hannover last week. The team hopes to feed off this confidence, as well as the home crowd and its new winter signings to finally get out of last place. However, perhaps last week was a fluke and the team just knows how to beat Hannover – their only win in the first half of the season was also against the Reds.
Rob Friend is still missing for Gladbach due to a heel injury. The Foals will also have to make do without striker Karim Matmour as he is with the Algerian national team in the African Cup.
Berlin is without Pal Dardai, Gojko Kacar and Nico Maximillian out with respective ankle, knee and back problems.
FSV Frankfurt - Greuther Fürth
Matt Taylor will hope to get some playing time as FSV Frankfurt takes on Greuther Fürth at home on Friday.
After playing short-sided for the better part of a half, having a non-goal allowed as a goal, losing a forward to injury and ultimately being blown out 5-0, FSV Frankfurt must believe that things can only get better.
The team will be looking to add some much-needed points to their account as they face a team that is also on the losing end of the standings. With just 13 points and sitting at 17th place in the standings, the team from head coach Hans-Jürgen Boysen will have to turn things around soon if they want to keep playing in the second league next season.
Greuther Fürth is currently in 14th place, eight points clear of a relegation spot and a win could potentially move them past the pack and into the middle of the standings.
Frankfurt is without forward Sebastian Göbig who injured his ankle in last week's loss as well as midfielder Pekka Lagerblom who is serving a one-game suspension for last week's red card.
Greuther Fürth is missing midfielders Youssef Mokhtari, who is suffering from back problems, and Edgar Prib who is recovering from an ankle injury.
New signee Ricardo Clark will watch from the stands as Eintracht Frankfurt travel to Nürnberg on Saturday. Head coach Michael Skibbe wants to give Clark enough time to regain full fitness before testing him on the field.
Jermaine Jones is still recovering from a broken leg and will not be in uniform when second-place Schalke travel to Bochum on Saturday.
Luis Robles will watch from the bench when Kaiserslautern try to extend their first-place lead at home against Ahlen on Saturday.
Kenny Cooper is still recovering from a knee injury and won't be in the squad when 1860 Munich plays Hansa Rostock at home on Friday.
Koblenz is still waiting for David Yelldell to return from an MCL injuries and won't include him in the team traveling to Bielefeld on Sunday.