PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will look to continue their remarkable star to the season as they host promoted St. Pauli while Jermaine Jones and Schalke try to turn things around when they visit Nürnberg.
Hannover 96 - FC St. Pauli
Steve Cherundolo will look to start in Hannover's defense while DaMarcus Beasley will hope to see minutes from the bench on Friday evening when the Reds host St. Pauli in the AWD-Arena.
Hannover have stormed to third place after their first six games of the season, with a remarkable total of 13 points on the strength of four wins. They went on the road to win a tight 1-0 contest with Kaiserslautern last weekend, and return home to host newly-promoted St. Pauli who have been tough on the road so far with two wins in three tries.
Pauli were handily beaten by second-place Dortmund last weekend and will look to turn things around and put a damper on Hannover's strong run.
Hannover coach Mirko Slomka will make do without defender Mario Eggimann plus midfielders Leon Andreasen and Altin Lala, as all three are working their way back to fitness after injuries. Additionally, midfielder Carlitos is out for an extended period with an ACL tear and forward Didier Ya Konan is also sidelined with a knee injury.
The visitors will be missing several players, with defenders Marcel Eger, Fabio Morena and Carsten Rothenbach missing time due to respective gastrointestinal infection, knee injury and recovery from leg surgery. Striker Richard Sukuta Pasu is also unavailable due to a knee problem.
Borussia Mönchengladbach - VfL Wolfsburg
Michael Bradley and Borussia Mönchengladbach will need to be on their toes on Saturday should they hope to take any points off of a hot Wolfsburg team and climb out of the bottom three.
The Foals disappointingly gave up a two-goal lead to Schalke last weekend and were forced to settle for a lone point in a game which at halftime had looked to be a sure three. The result was still a vast improvement over their previous three games which they had lost by a shocking 13-1 overall margin.
Their opponents Wolfsburg have finally picked up the pace after a slow start, winning their previous three games and climbing from the cellar to sixth place in the standings.
Head coach Steve McClaren will be missing defender Arne Friedrich as he recovers from knee surgery and midfielder Karim Ziani to a hip problem.
Foals coach Michael Frontzeck is without a trio of defenders, as Roel Brouwers is suspended for an earlier red card, Dante is recovering from a foot injury and Christian Dorda from a torn patella tendon. Midfielder Tony Jantschke is also out as he recovers from a broken foot.
FC Nürnberg - FC Schalke 04
Jermaine Jones and Schalke will hope that the momentum from Wednesday's Champions League win will carry through until Saturday when they visit Nürnberg.
Schalke got a huge lift from their 2-0 midweek win in Champions League play over Benfica, and will be looking to do the same against a Nürnberg team that has struggled for wins so far this season.
While the Königsblauen are still in the relegation zone at 17th place, a win would likely bump them up above the surface and be a foothold for the team to work their way back up through the standings.
Schalke coach Felix Magath will still be missing defender Tim Hoogland to a knee problem and fellow defender Christian Pander as he works his way back to fitness after a long absence. Georgian midfielder Levan Kenia will also be out as he is working back to full strength from injury.
Nürnberg have struggled for goals with a league-worst five through six games, and their cause will not be helped by the absence of three strikers, as Albert Bunjaku, Christian Eigler and Rubin Okotie are all out through injury.
MSV Duisburg - Rot-Weiß Oberhausen
David Yelldell will get the start in goal for Duisburg on Friday evening when they host Oberhausen, keeping their eye on getting back into the 2. Bundesliga's promotion spots.
All started perfectly for the Zebras as they flew to the top of the standings after three games, but two losses in their last three has brought them back to earth to their current sixth-place spot.
They can still be counted as amongst the favorites for promotion to the top flight, and can make a statement to the rest of the league should they take care of business against Oberhausen, who have gone undefeated in their last five to reach a tie for third place.
Duisburg are missing only a pair of players, with Kevin Grund recuperating from a knee problem and Adam Bodzek also working his way back to fitness.
Oberhausen have a lengthy injury list particularly affecting their back line, with Dominik Borutzki and Daniel Embers out with a muscular problem, Kevin Kolberg to a broken foot and Thomas Schlieter still regaining his fitness.
Additionally, midfielder Tim Kruse is also working back to fitness and has yet to appear this season, and the forward duo of Emmanuel Krontiris and Moses Lamidi are out with respective groin and muscle pulls.
FC Saarbrücken - Rot Weiss Ahlen
Matt Taylor will look to add to his goal tally on Saturday when Ahlen go for just their second win of the season on their visit to Saarbrücken.
Ahlen are having a rough run in the 3. Liga following last season's relegation campaign, with just one win and a total of eight points through their first ten games leaving them on the edge of the bottom three.
Last week's disheartening loss to Dresden was their second straight shut-out and third in four games, putting added pressure on Taylor to help spark their faltering attack.
Their quest to climb the standings will not be helped by a lengthy list of absences; starting keeper Andre Maczkowiak is out with a leg problem, defender Christian Alder with a muscle pull, fellow defender Philipp Stiller with a flu bug, forward Sebastian Hille with a pulled muscle, and midfielders Janis Kraus and Björn Kluft with a respective ankle spinal injuries.
Saarbrücken are missing only Manuel Zeitz to a suspension for yellow card accumulation.
Daniel Williams will hope to see minutes from the bench for Freiburg on Saturday when they host Cologne.
Ricardo Clark will be available from the bench on Sunday for Eintracht Frankfurt on their visit to Stuttgart.
Karlsruher SC backup keeper Luis Robles will begin the game on the bench on Friday while Ingolstadt defender Amaechi Igwe is still recovering from a knee injury and will not be available for the hosts.
Kenny Cooper is working his way back from a broken ankle and will not take part when 1860 Munich host Union Berlin.