PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Michael Bradley and the Foals face a crucial match against fellow relegation strugglers Cologne and Jermaine Jones will try to help Schalke pull free of the bottom three as they visit Wolfsburg.
VfL Wolfsburg - FC Schalke 04
Having shown signs of their true quality with a strong win over St. Pauli last weekend, Jermaine Jones and Schalke will hope to continue their turnaround and finally escape the drop zone on Saturday when they visit Wolfsburg.
Schalke may have finally turned a corner in their so-far disastrous season in blowing out St. Pauli by a three-goal margin one week before, and will have their eyes on a vulnerable Wolfsburg team that has won just one time in the league over their last four games.
Summer signing Raul was the main instigator in last Saturday's game with a pair of goals, and will certainly be looking to add to his season total against the porous Wolfsburg defense.
The Königsblauen will continue to be without Christian Pander, Tim Hoogland, Levan Kenia and Kyriakos Papadopoulos as they work their way back to fitness, while defender Nicolas Plestan is ill and will also be absent.
Wolfsburg are relatively healthy for the game, with just defender Arne Friedrich out as he recovers from knee surgery.
FC Cologne - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Michael Bradley and the Foals will do their best to harness the momentum of last week's impressive draw with Bayern when they visit Cologne on Saturday in vital relegation six-pointer.
Gladbach fought to a high-scoring 3-3 draw at home against the Bavarians, and will hope to put in a similar performance against a still-struggling Cologne squad that has won just one league match in their last eight tries.
The Foals still sit dead-last in the league standings, however could feasibly jump up to the relegation playoff spot should they take all three points.
Head coach Michael Frontzeck will be missing Jean Sebastien Jaures to a knee injury, Tony Jantschke with a broken foot and Juan Arango to a red card suspension.
Cologne have more serious injury problems, as keeper Columbian Faryd Mondragon defender Kevin McKenna, midfielder Petit as well as strikers Adil Chihi and Sebastian Freis are all out with various fitness problems.
FSV Mainz 05 - Hannover 96
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will try to end their slide down the standings on Saturday when they pay a visit to reeling Mainz.
DaMarcus Beasley should be see extensive minutes for coach Mirko Slomka as he finally shows sings of getting his footing in the German game.
Hannover have taken a hard fall since their blazing start, losing four of their last five, capped with a pair of embarrassing 4-0 blowouts at the hands of Dortmund and Hoffenheim in their last two outings.
They will hope that a Mainz team which is in a similar predicament will give them the opportunity they need to get back on the right track, as the current second-place team in the league has lost three of their last four league games after having gotten off to a record start of seven wins from the get-go.
Mainz do have the edge on roster strength, as they will only be missing Sami Allagui to a thigh injury and Heinz Müller as he works his way back to full strength.
Hannover have their eternal curse of a lengthy injury list hanging over their heads; Mortz Stoppelkamp will miss quite a bit of time - and thus give Beasley a chance to show his worth - with torn ligaments in his ankle, Carlitos is still awhile from returning from a knee injury, Emanuel Pogatetz has a pulled muscle, Leon Andreasen is still not yet up to speed from his earlier injury problem and Mohammed Abdellaoue is also suferring from a muscle pull.
On top of the long line in front of the team doctor's office, Karim Haggui is also forced out as he is suspended for picking up a red card in last week's loss to Dortmund.
Alemannia Aachen - MSV Duisburg
David Yelldell and Duisburg will look to continue their impressive defensive showing and strengthen their run at promotion on Sunday when they pay a visit to Aachen.
Pending other results on the weekend, Duisburg could feasibly jump to the top of the league should they beat Aachen, and will certainly be looking to at minimum solidify their hold on a top-three spot.
They have blazed through the league in the last month, winning four of five with their only setback coming two weeks ago in a close contest against Düsseldorf
Their defensive record is stellar, allowing less than one goal per game on the back of Yelldell's strong play between the nets.
The squad will be missing several players to injuries. Ivica Grlic is sidelined with a back issue, Sefa Yilmaz due to a knee injury and Srdjan Baljak with a foot problem.
Aachen will be without Thorsten Stuckmann who has a foot injury, Seyi Olajengbesi with a tendon injury in his knee, Thorsten Burkhardt with a foot problem, Florian Müller with an ACL tear and Markus Daun who is still recovering game fitness.
Karlsruher SC - Erzgebirge Aue
Luis Robles should be in the nets for Karlsruhe on Friday evening when the team tries to make headway out of the bottom three against visiting second-place Erzgebirge Aue.
Karlsruhe are currently a team in crisis, as they have slipped into the relegation zone on the heels of their current seven-game run during which they have just picked up two points.
Their road will not be easy against a surprisingly impressive Aue team, which has gone from promotion from the 3. Liga to a strong second place in the 2. Bundesliga. Their league's-best seven goals allowed through 11 games has them currently looking as though they could make an unlikely run at a second straight promotion.
Aue have a mostly full squad, with just Tomasz Kos out with an ankle problem and Najeh Braham working his way back from an earlier injury problem.
Karlsruhe are hampered by a lengthy injury list; Robles' backup Kristian Nicht is recovering from a knee operation, Godfried Aduobe from an adductor pull, Marco Engelhardt from rib bruising, Serhat Akin from a thigh problem and striker Christian Timm from a knee problem.
Rot Weiss Ahlen - VfB Stuttgart II
Matt Taylor will do his best to extend his three-game goalscoring run and shoot Ahlen to yet another victory on Saturday when they host Stuttgart II.
Ahlen have finally found their momentum in the last few weeks, putting together a trio of victories which has pulled them from the edge of the relegation zone to the upper half of the standings.
Taylor has been a central figure in the turnaround, netting four goals in this span and proving himself to be one of the team's best players.
Both teams head into the game with a plethora of injury absences; Ahlen will be without Andre Maczkowiak, Sebastian Ghasemi-Nobakht, Björn Kluft, Janis Kraus, Rouven Meschede and Sebastian Hille.
Stuttgart II is missing Sebastian Enderle, Öztürk Karatas, Moritz Kuhn, Soufian Benyamina and Tobias Rühle to various suspensions and injuries.
Ricardo Clark will hope to see minutes from the bench for Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday when the team visits struggling Werder Bremen.
Daniel Williams will hope he is still in his coach's plans on Sunday afternoon when Freiburg visit Hoffenheim.
Kenny Cooper is continuing his recovering, however will not be ready to take the field on Sunday when 1860 Munich visit Energie Cottbus.
Amaechi Igwe is still working his way back to fitness and will not suit up for Ingolstadt on Sunday when they host Paderborn.