PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Michael Bradley and 'Gladbach welcome in Hamburg on Friday while the Mayor of Hannover and DaMarcus Beasley travel to Nuremberg as the Bundesliga heads into its winter break.
Borussia Mönchengladbach - Hamburg SV
Michael Bradley will once again be organizing ‘Gladbach's midfield when the Foals take on Hamburg at home on Friday.
Borussia Mönchengladbach probably can't wait for the winter break. Just one more game before they can all sit down and reorganize everything that went wrong in the first half of the season. Unfortunately, this game is incredibly important for the last-place team and they will once again be extremely short-handed – especially on defense.
Hamburg has had its share of injuries as well. And they probably imagined the first half of the season running a little more smoothly. However, the team that has been considered one of the Bundesliga heavyweights over the last few years is stranded in the middle of the standings.
‘Gladbach will be without Tobias Levels and Raul Bobadilla – both of whom are suspended, as well as a backfield full of injuries including goalkeeper Logan Bailly and defenders Dante, Anderson, Jean Sebastian Jaures, Christian Dorda, Bernhard Janeczek and Roel Brouwers.
Hamburg will be without a score of defenders as well, with Dennis Aogo, Marcell Jansen, Collin Benjamin, Guy Demel, Dennis Diekmeier and Joris Mathijsen all having to pass. The team will also be missing midfielders Gojko Kacar and Ze Roberto, and forward Mladen Petric.
FC Nuremberg - Hannover 96
Captain Steve Cherundolo will most likely be back in the Hannover line-up that travels to take on Nuremberg on Saturday and DaMarcus Beasley will be looking for minutes before the Christmas break.
There is one major, glaring statistic that has been pestering Hannover this week. After the team is close to completing the best start in the club's history and after having already eclipsed the amount of points from last season, the outcome of the next game against Nuremberg might have already been decided last Sunday.
That is when forward Didier Ya Konan had knee surgery and any betting man would know that Hannover has lost every single game, nine since the forward's signing in August 2009, when Ya Konan has been missing.
In addition to Ya Konan, 96 is without backup keeper Markus Miller due to a knee injury, as well midfielder Moritz Stoppelkamp and the long-time absentees Leon Andreasen and Carlitos.
Nuremberg will just be without defender Per Nilsson and forward Albert Bunjaku.
MSV Duisburg - VfL Bochum
David Yelldell will be between the sticks for Duisburg when the team hosts Bochum on Friday.
There are just seven points separating ninth-place Bochum with the top of the standings and there are five teams that are still in contention for the top spot. One of those is Duisburg.
After riding a feel-good wave the first 10 games of the season, the team has been a little less dominant since then. With just two wins in the last seven games, the Zebras will be looking to end on a high note and take that momentum into the break.
Duisburg head coach Milan Sasic should have a full squad to choose from and Bochum will just be without defender Mathias Concha and midfielder Paul Freier – both due to injury.
1. FC Union Berlin - Karlsruher SC
Karlsuhe will rely on stopper Luis Robles once again when the team travels to take on Union Berlin on Monday.
Following last week's win against Bielefeld – a game in which KSC looked like it was trying to lose – team captain Alexander Iashvili said that they had to thank Robles. The US keeper helped clean up the messes that the midfield and defense were making.
After two wins in the last three games, KSC will be looking to move up in the standings and leapfrog Union Berlin in the process.
KSC is still missing goalkeeper Kristian Nicht and forward Christian Timm.
Union will be without midfielders Torsten Mattuschka, Michael Parensen, Björn Brunnemann and Santi Kolk as well as defender Ahmed Madouni.
Jermaine Jones is still practicing with Schalke's second team and won't be included in head coach Felix Magath's squad that hosts Cologne on Saturday.
Ricardo Clark might get the start in place of suspendeded defender Marco Russ when Eintracht Frankfurt hosts league leaders Dortmund on Saturday. It would be Clark's first start of the season.
Defender Daniel Williams will be hoping to be included in the Freiburg squad that travels to face Leverkusen on Sunday.
Alfredo Morales was not included in Hertha BSC's squad that played last weekend and will be hoping to travel with the team this Saturday when they take on Augsburg.
Amaechi Igwe is still recovering from knee surgery and won't be included in Ingolstadt's squad that travels to face Osnabrück on Sunday.
Kenny Cooper is back, but will most likely have to start on the bench when 1860 Munich hosts Paderborn on Saturday.
Nearly all of the third-league games for this coming weekend have been cancelled due to weather and field conditions – including Bayern Munich II's (Fabian Hürzeler) game against - Babelsberg and Ahlen's (Matt Taylor) game against Koblenz.