PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 will play for their Bundesliga existence while Ricardo Clark and Michael Bradley try to end the season on a positive note.
VfL Bochum – Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 won't want to leave anything to chance when they play Bochum on Saturday as a loss for either team would mean a chance at relegation.
Some might call it miracle, others might question the motivation of Gladbach players, but what Hannover accomplished last week is impressive. In one 6-1 sweep the team leveled the goal-difference playing field and pulled itself out in front among the relegation contenders.
Now, the team will take the short trip to Bochum to play for the right to compete in the Bundesliga next year. Hertha BSC has already taken the first of the relegation spots, but the other two – one being a play-off – can go to just three teams: Hannover, Bochum and Nürnberg.
While Hannover has showed some sparks in its last few games, with wins against Schalke and Gladbach, Bochum hasn't had anything to really cheer about since February when they beat Hoffenheim. The team has struggled, has fired its coach for the second time this season, and now has one game at home to prove it is worthy of first-league competition.
Midfielders Elson and Jacek Krzynowek as well as forward Arouna Kone will all be missing for Hannover 96 with knee injuries. Jan Rosenthal is still recovering from a hip problem, Leon Andreasen and Altin Lala and Mikael Forssel are still in rehab. Additionally, Sal Zizzo is still missing as he continues to recover from an ACL injury suffered during the fall.
Bochum will be without Christoph Dabrowski with an Achilles heel injury.
VfL Wolfsburg – Eintracht Frankfurt
After two good outings with Frankfurt, Ricardo Clark will most likely start once again in defensive midfield as the Eagles travel to Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Reports in the German media have stated that Clark's agent and team officials have been working out a new three-year deal, but the team spokesperson couldn't provide any details or new information. With an expiring contract, this could be the last time for Clark to show he has what it takes to play in the Bundesliga.
Wolfsburg and Eintracht are sitting at eighth and ninth place in the standings with very little left to play for in this season. Wolfsburg, last year's champions, will be looking end the season on a good note in front of the home fans.
The only thing that is still up for grabs is the league's golden cannon award, given to the top scorer. Frankfurt will be doing its best to keep Wolfsburg star forward Edin Dzeko off the scoreboard, who has put 14 into the back of the net since the winter break – the best in the league. The Bosnian national team player is currently tied for first with 21 goals this season.
Frankfurt's coach Michael Skibbe will have to improvise on defense due to the many injuries plaguing the team. To fill in for Chris, who will most likely miss out because of an abdominal injury and Marco Russ who is having knee problems, one of the defensive midfielders will most likely have to move back to central defender – and this group includes Clark, Patrick Ochs and Selim Teber.
Frankfurt is also without defenders Christoph Spycher and Aleksander Vasoski who are also suffering from knee problems and midfielders Caio and Zlatan Bajramovic. Midfielder Pirmin Schwegler will also be missing the final game of the season after picking up his fifth yellow card last week.
Wolfsburg will be missing Brazilian forward Grafite, who is also serving a one-game suspension.
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Bayer Leverkusen
Michael Bradley and Borussia Mönchengladbach will try and appease their home fans after last week's debacle as the team faces off against local rivals Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
Leverkusen still has a lot to play for on the final game of the season. A win could potentially put them into position to play in the Champion's League next season. The team has had a horrible second half of the season after starting so strong, and has only managed to win twice in the last 10 outings.
A player who particularly has something to prove is Leverkusen forward Stefan Kiessling. The lanky hit-man is currently tied with Dzeko of Wolfsburg for most goals this season and the player that scores the most this weekend will take home the golden cannon.
Gladbach coach Michael Frontzeck will have a complete squad to choose from.
Leverkusen will be without starting goalie Rene Adler. The now former number one for the German national team had to cancel his World Cup plans this week as it was decided he would have surgery for broken ribs. The team will also be without Simon Rolfes, who has also cancelled his South African trip this summer as he continues rehab. In addition, midfielders Renato Augusto and Tranquillo Barnetta are also out of commission, as well as defender Manuel Friedrich who picked up his fifth yellow card last week.
Schalke is still without Jermaine Jones who won't be on the bench when the team travels to Mainz on Saturday. The American midfielder has yet to return to training following his broken leg last year. Jared Jeffrey will be looking to make the bench for Mainz in the team's final game of the season.
Defender Daniel Williams will be hoping to make the bench for SC Freiburg when the team hosts Dortmund on Saturday.
Goalkeeper David Yelldell is out for the season and won't be around when Koblenz plays its last game before relegation against Frankfurt on Saturday. Yelldell is out of contract at the end of the season and rumors have placed him in the running for the starting job with Duisburg. The team will have a vacancy in goal as veteran Tom Starke will be moving to Hoffenheim after the season. Matt Taylor will be looking to make the bench for Frankfurt.
After starting last week, Luis Robles will be looking for another chance between the sticks for Kaiserslautern when the team faces Augsburg on Saturday. Robles is also out of contract this summer and has also been linked with the starting job in Duisburg in the German media.