PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Ricardo Clark will have a chance to stamp his name on a starting spot for Eintracht as they host Steve Cherundolo and Hannover, while Edson Buddle must still wait to make his debut for Ingolstadt.
Eintracht Frankfurt - Hannover 96
Ricardo Clark will most likely be at the center of Frankfurt's defense when the team hosts Steve Cherundolo, DaMarcus Beasley and Hannover 96 on Sunday.
The new year sees Frankfurt coach Michael Skibbe faced with a severe injury crunch across his back line, with several of his usual starters sidelined for various reasons.
The crisis, which began before the winter break, gave Clark the chance to put in a pair of strong performances for the team in December, and he will hope to parlay this into a potential spot in Skibbe's starting eleven for the remainder of the season.
With half of the season finished, Frankfurt are still in the hunt for a possible spot in European competition next season, and currently occupy seventh place in the standings.
The team will be without defenders Chris, Maik Franz, Marco Russ and Aleksandar Vasoski, who are sidelined with respective Back, stomach, meniscus and thigh injuries.
On the other side of the field, Hannover, captained by Cherundolo, have perhaps been the most surprising team in Germany's top tier over the first half of the season.
While they barely survived their relegation battle in the 2009-10 term, they have exceeded all expectations this year to occupy fourth place, two behind both Leverkusen and Mainz, and even have an outside shot at challenging for a Champions League place.
Head coach Mirko Slomka has been fairly fortunate on the injury front, with season-long absences Leon Andreasen and Carlitos still working their way back to fitness.
FC Nürnberg - Borussia Mönchengladbach
After a positive winter break, Michael Bradley will back in the middle for Borussia Mönchengladbach when they travel to Nürnberg on Saturday.
The winter break was an unhappy one for the Foals, with the team forced to spend the holiday season with the knowledge that they are currently on a straight path for relegation.
While Michael Frontzeck amazingly survived the axe despite a league's worst tally of ten points through 17 games, the pressure is still surely on the heads of all within the organization to turn things around in record time, or face a return to Germany's second tier.
Bradley has been one of the team's most consistent contributors and shares the team lead for goals scored, however the fact that only three is enough for this distinction underlies just one of the many problems of the team.
Frontzeck will have to make do without several key players. striker Karim Matmour is out with a flu bug while frontline mate Raul Bobadilla is on a red card suspension. Additionally, defenders Dante and Roel Brouwers are both still recovering from knee injuries.
Nürnberg also will take the field with a somewhat weakened team. Swedish international defender Per Nilsson is recovering from a MCL injury, midfielders Mike Frantz and Ilkay Gündogan are also hobbled and unlikely to participate, and forward Albert Bunjaku is out with a knee problem.
Additionally, Slovakian international midfielder Marek Mintal has been given his release by the team to pursue opportunities in MLS.
MSV Duisburg - VfL Osnabrück
David Yelldell will be between the sticks for Duisburg when the team takes on Osnabrück at home.
Duisburg ended the first half of the season somewhat weakly after initially storming to the front of the league, and will need to improve their play if they hope to have a shot at promotion to the 1. Bundesliga at season's end.
They are currently at the rear of a six-team pack which are all fighting for the top three spots, with just a paltry three points separating leaders Augsburg from sixth-place Duisburg.
The Zebras do have luck on their side as far as injuries, with only forward Srdjan Baljak out with a calf problem.
Their opponents Osnabrück are entrenched in a completely different struggle at the opposite end of the standings, with just two points keeping them out of the drop zone and a potential return to the 3. Liga.
They do have a quartet of absences hampering their hopes of taking something from this game, as defenders Konstantin Engel and Oliver Stang are both ill midfielder Michael Lejan has a heel injury and forward Dennis Schmidt is working his way back to health from an earlier injury.
Karlsruher SC - SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Luis Robles and Karlsruhe will be looking to start the second half of the season on a high note when they take on Greuther Fürth at home on Friday.
Luis Robles will be between the sticks for Karlsuhe on Friday when they host Greuther Fürth.
Delron Buckley, a Bundesliga veteran, will get the start for KSC on Friday. He was one of several signings over the winter break.
The offensive midfielder will be looking to jumpstart KSC and get the team over the hump. Kiliann Witschi, another newcomer, will also get he start on defense.
They will have a tough time against sixth placed Greuther Fürth. The team has been in the top half of the standings for most of the season.
The biggest question for Fürth heading into this game was, who was going to replace their injured goalkeeper Max Grün? The leading goalkeeper from the 2. Bundesliga broke his shin bone just five days ago. In the end, back-up Jasmin Fejzic got the nod for Friday.
KSC will be without defender Patrick Haag. Along with Grün, Fürth will also be without midfielder Milorad Pekovic.
Daniel Williams looks to be out for a few months with a knee injury and won't travel with Freiburg when the team plays St. Pauli on Saturday.
Jermaine Jones is still out of favor with Schalke head coach Felix Magath and won't be with the team when they take on Hamburg at home on Saturday.
Edson Buddle is still awaiting his final release from the Los Angeles Galaxy while Amaechi Igwe is still out injured, meaning neither will be in action when Ingolstadt travel to Augsburg on Sunday.
Alfredo Morales has returned to Hertha Berlin's second team, and is unlikely to be present when they visit Rot-Weiß Oberhausen on Monday evening.
Kenny Cooper is returning to MLS and is no longer a part of the 1860 Munich team which will host Bochum on Saturday.
3. Bundesliga won't be back in action until the end of January, giving both Ahlen forward Matt Taylor and FC Bayern II midfielder Fabian Hürzeler two more weeks until their teams resume play.