PREVIEW: WEEKEND GERMAN ACTION
Timothy Chandler and Nürnberg face perhaps their toughest test yet when they welcome Werder Bremen while Edson Buddle and Ingolstadt will try to turn around last week's loss when they host promoted team Dynamo Dresden.
FC Nürnberg - Werder Bremen
Timothy Chandler will have his defensive skills put to the test on Saturday when Nürnberg hosts high-flying Werder Bremen.
Chandler will not have fond memories of the previous time the mighty Green-Whites paid his team a visit in mid-March, as he received the first and only double-booking of his career and was forced to watch the final minutes of the 3-1 loss from the locker room.
If Werder's recent tear through the Bundesliga is any indication of what they will bring to the field on Saturday, Chandler and his teammates could be in for a tough afternoon as they look to build on their own momentum.
Further complicating matters for Nürnberg is a goalkeeping crisis which sees both Raphael Schäfer and backup Patrick Rakovsky out for the time being, putting third-string keeper Stephan Alexander in the nets, possibly signaling a field day for the Werder frontline duo of Claudio Pizarro and Marko Arnautovic.
Werder have won their last three while scoring nine goals in the process to reach second place in the Bundesliga standings, however Nürnberg have quietly worked their own way upwards, taking close victories in each of their last two, and are now seventh in the league technically within reach of a top-three spot should they post a win.
In addition to the absences in goal, Nürnberg coach Dieter Hecking will be without defender Per Nillson, who is recovering from an Achilles operation, and midfielders Daniel Didavi and Mike Frantz are still working their way back to game fitness from injuries. Additionally, the attack will be greatly hampered with the suspension of starting forward and joint leading scorer on the team Tomas Pekhart after the Czech international picked up a pair of yellow cards in last weekend's game.
For Bremen, head coach Thomas Schaaf will be missing several bit players. Midfielder Tim Borowski is out with an ankle injury, while turtle-speed utility disaster-man Mikael Silvestre will not be able to inflict his usual combination of heart attacks and self-inflicted broken noses through excessive and repeated facepalms on the traveling fan contingent as he mercifully is recovering from knee surgery.
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim - VfL Wolfsburg
Daniel Williams will likely see substitute minutes for Hoffenheim on Saturday when they host a Wolfsburg team looking to build momentum after a tough start.
Hoffenheim midfielder Fabian Johnson is set to miss the next month with a slipped disc and will watch the game from the stands.
The Hoffe put on their best performance of the season last weekend, completely demolishing neighboring Mainz by a four-goal margin in a game which was one-sided from the get-go.
They will look to their attacking leaders of Ryan Babel and Roberto Firmino to spark a similar output against Felix Magath's Wolfsburg team which is still teetering on the edge of crisis.
After the team barely avoided an embarrassing relegation last season, they began the 2011-12 campaign with a whimper, and gave first signs that they might finally be headed on the right path after their close win over Shalke last weekend.
In addition to Johnson, Hoffenheim are without striker Vedad Ibisevic due to a pulled muscle, and midfielders Boris Vukcevic and Tobias Weis as they work back to fitness from earlier injuries.
Wolfsburg are without starting keeper Diego Benaglio with a tendon injury, defender Arne Friedrich who is not yet fit from a long-term injury along with midfielders Thomas Hitzlsperger, Hasan Salihamidzic and Sebastian Schindzielorz as they recover from various injuries.
Hannover 96 - Borussia Dortmund
Steve Cherundolo and Hannover will hope that any residual fatigue from their Thursday-night Europa League encounter will be long gone in time for the team to host reigning champions Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.
Both Hannover and Dortmund earned draws in their respective midweek European action, with Dortmund fighting back for a point at home against Arsenal two days before Hannover were held to a scoreless deadlock by visiting Belgians Standard Liege.
Similarly, both teams are coming off of losses in their previous league games, although Hannover's was likely less of an embarrassment than that of their counterparts, if even by a hair.
A 3-0 thrashing on the Reds' trip to Stuttgart was a minor shock after they had surged to a top-four place through the first few games of the week, however Dortmund's defeat in front of a packed home crowd to promoted Hertha Berlin gave a strong signal that they are not in any way destined to repeat the glory of last season.
Most critically, Hannover are missing starting midfielder Christian Schulz to a back problem and leading scorer Mohammed Abdellaoue with a pulled thigh. In addition, long-term absences Leon Andreasen and Carlitos are still on the sidelines.
Dortmund are also with their injury concerns; midfielder Sven Bender is absent with a pulled muscle, both Mario Götze and Sebastian Kehl are suspended. Additionally, veteran defender Patrick Owomoyela and forward Lucas Barrios must both wait for their season debuts as they recover from longer term injuries.
FC Ingolstadt 04 - Dynamo Dresden
Edson Buddle will be in the starting lineup for Ingolstadt on Friday afternoon when they try to claw out of the relegation zone against visiting Dynamo Dresden.
As strongly as they may have performed in the latter half of last season, Ingolstadt have reverted back to their irregular and poor play of the fall months of 2010.
A poor start which has generated a single win through seven games was highlighted in their 4-1 beatdown by Union Berlin last week, and they need to start winning games or their season - and the job of head coach Benno Möhlmann could be in jeopardy.
They are facing a promoted Dresden team which has often a tendency to make headlines more for the most extreme and raucous elements of their hooligan-infested fanbase rather than for their on-field exploits, but has not looked entirely out of place up in the German second tier with a tenth-place positioning.
For Ingolstadt, starting outside back Andreas Görlitz is out on red card suspension, bench midfielder Kristoffer Andersen will miss the game with an ankle problem, Braziilian star midfielder Caiuby also is out with an ankle problem, and fellow midfielders Leonhard Haas and Malte Metzelder are also sidelined with various injuries.
Dresden have no significant injuries or suspensions for the game.
VfL Bochum - SC Paderborn 07
Matt Taylor will hope to see substitute minutes for Paderborn on Sunday when they look to help pile the misery on VfL Bochum.
Having come into the season with hopes of a return to the Bundesliga, Bochum have suffered a historically awful start, losing five of their seven to sit next to last in the standings.
Conversely, Paderborn, the perpetual pre-season relegation favorites, have enjoyed a spot in the upper half of the 2. Bundesliga standings, where they are currently ninth and undefeated in their last three.
Taylor is settling into the role of second-half "joker" and occasional spot starter, and will likely be used in the first role in thi road game.
Bochum are missing the midfield duo of Takashi Inui and Faton Toski, the former to red card suspension and the latter to a shoulder injury.
Paderborn have only defender Jens Wissing out with an ankle injury.
SV Darmstadt 98 - Preußen Münster
Preston Zimmerman will hope to continue his run of consistent minutes on the field for Darmstadt when they host a strong fourth-place Preußen Münster team on Saturday.
After a respectable start to the season, Darmstadt are beginning to settle into the season which was widely expected for them, namely a freshly-promoted Regionalliga team looking largely out of its depth in the 3. Liga.
They ware winless in four, with their most recent defeat being a midweek 4-0 embarrassment on the road to Saarbrücken. Zimmerman did play the final 20 minutes in that game and has featured in three of the team's last four, possibly putting him in line for significant time on the field once again as the coach looks for any way to alter their fortunes.
For Darmstadt, defenders Markus Brüdigam is absent with a knee injury while forward Oliver Heil is recovering from a broken elbow. Midfielder Henry Onwuzuruike is questionable after missing the midweek loss with a slight knock.
Münster are not currently reporting any injuries or suspensions.
David Yelldell will be on the bench for Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday when they host local rivals FC Cologne.
Alfredo Morales will likely not be in uniform for Hertha's first team on Saturday when they host FC Augsburg, as he has recently been featuring with their U23 squad.
Jermaine Jones will likely not suit up for Schalke on Sunday as they welcome arch-rivals FC Bayern in the Veltins Arena.
Ricardo Clark will in all likelihood not take part on Friday evening when Eintracht Frankfurt hosts Hansa Rostock.
Bobby Wood should return to 1860's bench on Sunday when they celebrate the start of Oktoberfest in Munich in front of a happily drunk lederhosen-wearing crowd with a home game against FSV Frankfurt.
Luis Robles will be on Karlsruhe's bench on Monday as backup keeper when they welcome FC St. Pauli.
Amaechi Igwe is suspended for yellow card accumulation and will watch from the stands on Saturday when SV Babelsberg hosts Rot-Weiß Oberhausen in 3. Liga action.