PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Americans will be crossing paths in Germany once again when Ricardo Clark and Eintracht Frankfurt head to Hannover and Steve Cherundolo, while Michael Bradley and Borussia Mönchengladbach host Wolfsburg.
Hannover 96 – Eintracht Frankfurt
Steve Cherundolo will most likely make his return to the starting backline and Ricardo Clark will be hoping for his first Bundesliga appearance when Hannover 96 and Eintracht Frankfurt meet on Saturday.
Hannover will enter this game with a little bit more confidence after finally getting off the losing streak last week against Freiburg. The team from head coach Mirko Slomka has looked better in the last few weeks with the new winter signings – Elson and Arouna Koné adding offensive options.
96 is currently in 16th place in the standings but level on points with relegation-bound Freiburg. With Nürnberg just a point ahead of those two, you can tell how precious points are going to be when the season comes to a close – four teams will be battling to stay away from relegation and that dreaded play-off spot.
Frankfurt has been in the top half of the table for most of the season now, but the team has seen some ups and downs since the winter break. After two losses in a row, Michael Skibbe will be looking to pick up points on the road.
Hannover is still without midfielders Hanno Balitsch and Jacek Krzynowek, both suffering from knee problems and midfielder Jan Rosenthal who has a hip injury. American Sal Zizzo and forward Mikael Forssel are still in rehab and will miss the match as well. Altin Lala picked up a knee injury and will most likely miss out as well.
Frankfurt is still without striker Ioannis Amanatidis and defender Aleksandar Vasoski, both of which are recovering from knee surgery. Forward Nikos Liberopoulus is also out with a muscle strain.
Borussia Mönchengladbach – VfL Wolfsburg
Michael Bradley will take his normal spot in midfield as the Foals host Wolfsburg at home.
It will be hard to pull any positives from Gladbach's game against Dortmund last week as the team from Michael Frontzeck was limited to just one shot on goal. The coach might try and mix things up by putting Canadian forward Rob Friend in the starting line-up.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle standing in the way right now for Wolfsburg is their schedule.
After a Thursday evening game in the Europe League against Rubin Kazan – in Russia – the team will pretty much be flying straight to its next task, playing away to Gladbach. With a squad that has been hit hard with injuries already, it will be interesting to see what the roster looks like on Saturday.
Gladbach will almost be at full strength, with only midfielder Thorben Marx missing due to an upper thigh injury.
Wolfsburg on the other hand will be without first-choice goal keeper Diego Benaglio, who is in rehab, defender Andrea Barzagli with a rib injury, new signing Rever Humberto and midfielder Karim Ziani with a thigh injury. It is still unclear if Brazilian forward Grafite will overcome injury and be ready to play.
Rot Weiss Ahlen – TuS Koblenz
David Yelldell is back between the posts and hoping to pull out a win as TuS Koblenz fight for survival against Ahlen.
Koblenz is currently sitting at the bottom of the second division and this game against Ahlen could either put life back into the team's season or the nail in the coffin. Three points still wouldn't put them out of harm's way but it would definitely be a step towards salvation.
For such a horrible place in the standings, Ahlen has been streaking. The team has four wins in the last six outings and a win at home could potentially bring them out of the relegation zone.
Koblenz will be without defender Martin Hudec with an ankle problem and midfielder Zoltan Stieber who has a hip problem.
Ahlen is without defender Sebastian Pelzer who is serving his one-game suspension after receiving his fifth yellow card. The team is also without midfielder Tim Gorschlüter who has a shoulder injury, forwards Thomas Bröker who is still recovering from injury, Momar N'Diaye who has a broken leg and Dusko Stajic who has a calf strain.
FC Schalke 04 will take on Stuttgart at home on Friday and Jermaine Jones will once again be watching from the stands as he continues his rehabilitation from a broken leg.
Jared Jeffrey is not expected to dress for Mainz as the club plays FC Cologne at home on Saturday.
After missing out three weeks in a row, defender Daniel Williams will be hoping to see some action again as SC Freiburg travels to take on Bayern on Sunday.
Luis Robles will watch from the bench when Kaiserslautern host Cottbus on Sunday
Matt Taylor will most likely not feature when Frankfurt takes on Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday.